Seeking Alpha: apps will help us meet demand for short form news

Seeking Alpha screenshot logo

Seeking Alpha, an investor site that relies on “crowd sourced financial journalism,” is making a big push for the mobile market with a series of financial news apps. The apps, which cover verticals like tech, ETF’s and energy, provide on-the-go news for the growing number of people who use their smartphone to catch up on the bus or in a Starbucks line.

While there’s nothing earth-shaking about a financial news app (Bloomberg, TheStreet and others are in the game too), Seeking Alpha is worth watching because of its mobile strategy and the unusual model that drives its content curation — the articles are churned out primarily by investors rather than professional journalists.

According to founder David Jackson, the article pays $500 for an article that affects a major stock and $150 in the case of a small cap one. Other contributors receive smaller amounts based on how many people see the article. Jackson said by phone last week that the site paid out $800,000 to writers in Q1 of this year, while also “weeding out” list-based content.

From a strategic standpoint, Seeking Alpha isn’t trying to make money directly from the apps but hopes instead that the apps will juice sales of the site’s premium product.

“It’s a huge opportunity to take mind share in mobile. We can give away the content for free because the marginal cost to us is zero.”

The mobile content itself is a stream of one paragraph news summaries, a list of sector headlines and a portfolio page with stories tied to specific stock symbols. The fare doesn’t compete with “Angry Bonds” and other offerings from Bloomberg, which has its own app store, but is likely to prove a “good enough” solution for many investors.

Seeking Alpha’s push into mobile content comes at a time that  startups like Summly and Circa that aspire to make reading more efficient.

Jackson said Seeking Alpha, which is owned by three VC firms, has 110 employees but would not divulge information about revenue or profitability.

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