Sunday, June 23, 2024

AI News Reader Startup Particle Secures $10.9M Funding, Partners with Reuters to Revolutionize News Consumption


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  • Particle, an AI-driven news reader app, has partnered with Reuters to explore new business models. It has secured $10.9 million in Series A funding.
  • Founded by ex-Twitter engineers, Particle aims to provide multi-perspective news summaries, enhancing reader understanding and supporting publishers.
  • The app, currently in private beta, plans to expand to web and Android, hiring key roles to grow its team.

Enter Particle, a startup with a new approach to news reading. Created by former Twitter engineers, Particle uses AI to summarize news from various publishers, offering readers a comprehensive understanding of every story’s angles.

This week, Particle announced a significant partnership with Reuters. This collaboration aims to explore innovative business models for the AI age, ensuring that AI summaries don’t equate to lost revenues for publishers. By subscribing to Reuters’ newswire, Particle can deliver up-to-date news to its users.

In addition to this partnership, Particle has secured $10.9 million in Series A funding. This round, led by Lightspeed Venture Partners, includes investments from Axel Springer, the media giant behind brands like Business Insider and Politico. These collaborations underscore Particle’s commitment to working with publishers to achieve common goals rather than trying to fix their problems independently.

However, focusing on publisher needs is no guarantee of success. Other startups have tried similar approaches and failed. For instance, Post News, backed by a16z, shut down after experimenting with micropayments for news articles. Likewise, Artifact, a news app by Instagram’s co-founders, was sold to Yahoo after attempting to leverage AI for personalized news reading.

Particle believes it can offer unique value to news consumers beyond just AI summaries. The app aims to help readers understand news stories from multiple perspectives using AI to analyze different angles.

“We think it’s crucial to see how a story is reported from all sides,” said Particle co-founder Sara Beykpour, a former senior director of product management at Twitter.

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Beykpour, who previously worked on projects like Twitter Blue and Twitter Video, co-founded Particle with Marcel Molina, a former senior engineer at Twitter and Tesla. The team initially had a social focus but quickly pivoted to news and information, aiming to cut through the noise and provide a deeper understanding of current events.

Particle offers a personalized news experience but avoids creating “filter bubbles,” where readers only see content that aligns with their views. Instead of focusing on individual articles, Particle presents a story as a whole, drawing from multiple sources. This approach prevents repetition and ensures readers receive a broad spectrum of viewpoints.

Particle employs AI technologies, including GPT-4, to summarize news. Currently, Particle selects sources for its stories, ensuring users are exposed to diverse perspectives. While this might change in the future, the goal is to prevent users from getting trapped in echo chambers.

Other startups have tackled similar issues before. For example, Google engineers developed Brief, an app using human editors to summarize news, which Twitter later acquired. Similarly, SmartNews launched a feature to show articles across the political spectrum, though it wasn’t a major draw for downloads.

Particle hasn’t yet decided on a business model, as it’s still collaborating with publishers to find the best approach. Revenue sharing, advertising, and other methods are all being considered.

With its recent funding, Particle is adding Lightspeed’s Michael Mignano to its board and bringing in several angel investors. The company is also hiring for key positions like backend engineer and media partnerships lead.

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Currently, Particle’s app is in private beta testing on iOS’s Testflight, with plans to expand to the web and Android soon.

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Emily Parker
Emily Parker
Emily Parker is a seasoned tech consultant with a proven track record of delivering innovative solutions to clients across various industries. With a deep understanding of emerging technologies and their practical applications, Emily excels in guiding businesses through digital transformation initiatives. Her expertise lies in leveraging data analytics, cloud computing, and cybersecurity to optimize processes, drive efficiency, and enhance overall business performance. Known for her strategic vision and collaborative approach, Emily works closely with stakeholders to identify opportunities and implement tailored solutions that meet the unique needs of each organization. As a trusted advisor, she is committed to staying ahead of industry trends and empowering clients to embrace technological advancements for sustainable growth.

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