Storify, a San Francisco-based startup that launched a social-media aggregation service for journalists last fall, announced today that it has closed a $2-million Series A round of funding from Khosla Ventures, the venture capital fund run by Sand Hill Road legend Vinod Khosla. The service, which was founded by former foreign correspondent Burt Herman, makes it easy for journalists or bloggers — or anyone writing online — to pull in content from social media services like Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and YouTube and generate a story based on real-time information from these networks. Herman says the more than 10,000 stories created using the service have accumulated more than 4.5 million views.
As I described in a post I wrote when Storify launched at the Disrupt conference in San Francisco in September, Herman started the company after he got finished doing a Knight Fellowship in journalism at Stanford, where he thought about the impact of social media and the real-time web on journalism. He says that after some research, he decided that he wanted to try and change the way that stories were told online — by journalists and others — because they still seeemed to be so static, rather than taking advantage of social tools like Twitter and Facebooks. So he started working with developer Xavier Damman, and Storify launched an invitation-only beta last year.
In an interview Wednesday, Herman said that watching the events unfold in Egypt made him recall his days as a foreign correspondent reporting from places like Kazakhstan and Iraq, but that what he is trying to do now is “to have a wider impact than just telling one story — we’re trying to reimagine how storytelling occurs online.”
Used by NPR, Washington Post and Al-Jazeera
Since it launched, the service has caught on with a number of media outlets — including National Public Radio, where digital advocate Andy Carvin used it to great effect to pull together news about the shooting of Rep. Gabriela Giffords in Tucson, Ariz. , with posts from Twitter and videos from YouTube and images from Flickr all intertwined with a narrative about the event as it unfolded. Carvin also used it in the same way to cover the Tunisian uprising not long afterwards, and Craig Silverman of Regret The Error and PBS MediaShift also used Storify to catalogue how an error about the Tucson shooting was re-distributed through social media, and how various media outlets handled that.
Much of blogging and reporting online “is still very much a print-type model, where instead of clicking ‘print,’ you click ‘publish,’ and then the story is done,” says Herman. “We’re trying to make that process more dynamic, more real-time, more live.” The company is working on adding features that would show readers what had changed about a Storify story if they came back to it hours later, “the same way you see the latest news when you refresh your Facebook or Twitter feed.”
Not focusing on revenue models yet
For now, the Storify founder says the company isn’t focusing on how it is going to generate revenue, but is trying to make the service more stable and build in new features. “We’re not worrying too much about the business model at this point,” he said. “We don’t want to step on our own toes — so we’re just focusing on the user experience at this point.” Khosla Ventures didn’t put much focus on revenue models either, Herman says. “They have a long-term vision of what we’re trying to do, I think.”
Embedded below is is a short video interview I did with Herman at the Disrupt conference:
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