Flipboard Buys Ellerdale, Launches Social Digital Magazine

Remember how the iPad was supposed to herald a new era of media consumption? Well, that day is finally here — or at least an early glimpse of it, with the new iPad application Flipboard, built by a new company of the same name.

Palo Alto, Calif.-based Flipboard, backed with $10.5 million from Kleiner Perkins and Index Ventures, has built a beautiful application that reformats web articles, photos and status messages into a magazine-style layout. You can use it as an alternate way to consume your Twitter followers’ shared links, your Facebook friends’ posts and pictures, or other choice feeds of web content.

The first version of Flipboard just hit the Apple app store tonight, but the next version will be even more interesting, as it will be powered by the relevance engine built by Ellerdale. In recent weeks, Flipboard acquired Ellerdale, which had developed a set of real-time search and discovery tools based on Twitter. Ellerdale co-founder and CTO Arthur van Hoff has joined Flipboard as CTO.

Flipboard is an application for content consumption, not creation. This is not your new full-functioned iPad Twitter client; it’s a way to read the articles your friends think are most interesting in a format that emphasizes photos, typography, and the appeal of well-placed white space.

Flipboard was founded by Mike McCue, former CEO of Tellme and Evan Doll, a former senior iPhone engineer at Apple. Besides Kleiner and Index, it is also backed by Jack Dorsey, Dustin Moskovitz, Peter Chernin, Ron Conway, Alfred Lin, Peter Currie, Quincy Smith and Ashton Kutcher. Ellerdale was in the process of raising its first institutional funding at the time of the acquisition.

Van Hoff said that two-year-old Ellerdale had initially wanted to create a personalized social web product, but had been warned off the challenge by investors, so it set off to build the technology first and eventually find a use for it. Only now that does original idea makes sense, he said, given the form factor of the iPad. “We’ve been building a great analytics engine, but we never had the delivery mechanism for the content sorted out. Our site was the demo, not a product, and here [with Flipboard] we have a great product.”

McCue said that while the initial Flipboard is a free application, in the future the company plans to explore advertising and subscription models as well as revenue sharing with publishers. The company also plans to soon add additional sources of content such as Tumblr, LinkedIn and Yelp.

For more on the cool stuff Ellerdale was doing, and van Hoff’s perspective on real-time as a long-time influential technologist, see our recent video interview with him.

For more on Flipboard, which is the kind of app you could really imagine sitting back, relaxing, and poring through, see this demo video they made:

And here are some screenshots:

 

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