Qwiki Launches A Publishing Platform For ABC News And Others

Qwiki, the startup that won Disrupt in San Francisco two years ago, is announcing a new platform today for bloggers and other online publishers.

The company’s initial product basically assembled a multimedia “story” around Wikipedia articles, with images, videos, maps, and more. But the vision was bigger — to present a new kind of information experience.

Now Qwiki is pitching its platform as a way for publishers to quickly and easily create short, interactive stories, which can be embedded on the publisher site and also featured in a “channel” on Qwiki. Initial partners include ABC News, which is embedding Qwikis throughout its website, and fashion publisher Stylecaster. You can watch some of the sample ABC News Qwikis here. In some ways, they look like regular news broadcasts, but presumably assembled with much less time and effort thanks to Qwiki’s technology, and with a layer of light interactivity (allowing viewers to drill down on individual topics).

“What interested us in being the first media organization to use Qwiki’s innovative new video format is the ease with which reporters and producers can create informative and creative video content in almost no time,” says Maya Baratz, senior product manager at ABC News. “We plan to use Qwikis regularly on ABCNews.com and Goodmorningamerica.com on Yahoo!”

Qwiki seemed to have a bumpy 2011. It raised $9 million from big-name investors including Lightbank (the investment fund of Groupon co-founders Brad Keywell and Eric Lefkofsky) and Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin, then released an impressive iPad app that took off quickly. However, it also lost its famous co-founder Louis Monier (who founded search engine AltaVista) and other technical executives.

This might look like a new direction, but a Qwiki spokesperson tells me, “This isn’t a pivot.” He says the startup will continue working on its consumer products, while also making this platform available to consumers soon.

Qwiki will be demonstrating the platform at Disrupt this afternoon.