After WaPo Sale, Graham Holdings Relaunches Its Flipboard Competitor Trove

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A few years back, the Labs group of The Washington Post Co. debuted Trove, a personalized, social news site and aggregator that relied heavily on Facebook for curation. But of course, the company’s flagship newspaper WaPo was sold to Jeff Bezos last year, and the Labs group was absorbed into the new Washington Post Co., which is now Graham Holdings. Today, Graham Holdings is relaunching Trove as a standalone social news reader, which combines existing parts of the original Trove app and WaPo Labs’ Social Reader app to create a new social news-reading experience.

Trove, which is launching iPhone and iPad apps, as well as a mobile site today, is based on the same premise as Flipboard and others in the space: The Internet is overflowing with news, and there needs to be a way to cut through all the noise. Facebook and Twitter can’t serve to cut through this noise, but the social and personal data these networks provide can help sift through what may be relevant to me and my interests.

Trove’s social news app is a combination between Flipboard and Pulse from LinkedIn. The app wants to bring you stories picked by people who share your interests. So once you enter the app, you can follow certain topics (which are called troves), and you’ll see a feed of news around these Troves. So if you picked news around “Fashion” and “Technology” and “Food,” Trove will accumulate the best articles from over 15,000 news sources to fit these areas. If you integrate your Twitter and Facebook accounts, Trove will suggest various “Troves” for you to follow based on your Facebook likes and topics you’ve tweeted about in your Twitter feed.

The stories in troves are also picked by curators who are passionate about a topic. So some troves by topic are curated by Trove’s algorithm, and there are some Troves that are created by users and curators. As Trove’s team explains, “algorithms are smart, but people are smarter. So on Trove, curator picks appear at the top.” For launch, the group has accumulated a group of curators including former Bravo Top Chef contestant Spike Mendelsohn, Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Senior Correspondent at The Washington Post, on “Afghan War” and Vivek Wadhwa, journalist and tech entrepreneur, on “Advancing Technologies.”

To create a Trove, you can name your curation (i.e. Fashion Week), add a description (i.e. Stories from Fashion Week in Paris), and add additional Troves to your curation.

At the heart of Trove is the idea that you are curating your news through the eyes of various people you trust, as well as through your own interests. Within each Trove you can pick stories, which is similar to Liking a story. The story will rise higher within the Trove based on more picks. You can also comment, tweet or post stories to Facebook from Trove. Additionally, the Trove editorial team will feature certain curated Troves.

“Trove is about reducing the amount of work you need to do to find stories,” explains Trove’s team. “We think this is introducing a different way to find and discover quality news.”

Trove’s creators are correct in wanting to help users cut through the noise of news, and use their social data, and personal interests to help do this. But I suspect Trove will have a tough time differentiating itself from the giant in the space, Flipboard. Armed with new funding, Flipboard is growing impressively and now has more than 100 million users. Not only is Flipboard tackling personalized news, but CNN-owned Zite and Prismatic are also formidable competitors.

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