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Flipboard founder Mike McCue says the company is taking another step towards building the world’s best personalized digital magazine by launching what he calls Flipboard 3.0. The new version involves better curation of the millions of customized magazines that readers have created — using recommendation technology acquired when it bought Zite earlier this year — as well as a daily newspaper-style magazine called The Daily Edition that is edited by Flipboard staff.
The second major revision of the mobile magazine app came in 2013, McCue says, when Flipboard gave readers the ability to create their own customized magazines within the app, by adding articles and other content from a variety of sites and other sources that are pulled into the service — both from publishers who have partnerships with the company and those whose RSS feeds are mined for content.
While these new features proved to be hugely popular, the Flipboard co-founder and CEO says that after watching readers create more than 10 million magazines on a wide variety of topics, it became obvious that a lot of great content was getting lost in the shuffle, because there weren’t enough discovery tools.
So what the company has done is take the content analysis and recommendation technology that was developed by Zite — which Flipboard acquired in March for a reported $60 million — and applied it to creating topics and sub-topics, making that universe of 10 million customized magazines easier for users to sift through. Now, when a new user or existing user pulls up the topic picker, each choice reveals other sub-topics that might be of interest. Flipboard used to offer 30 topics, but now it offers a total of 34,000 McCue said.
[blockquote person=”” attribution=””]The Zite engine is powering this, and it’s deep topic analysis — we use it to surface what other people are curating about that topic. But there is no algorithm for cool, or beautiful, or inspiring, so we are using a fusion of algorithm and human, the science and the art.[/blockquote]
The mobile app has also undergone a complete redesign to make signing up and choosing topics easier, the Flipboard CEO said. But the biggest addition to the new version is the creation of a curated daily news-magazine called The Daily Edition, which will be put together by Flipboard staff and is intended to give users a one-stop way of catching up on the top news in a variety of sectors.
Similar products have been launched by a number of small and large media outlets over the past year or so, including the New York Times app NYT Now, the Yahoo News app, Inside and Circa. But McCue says Flipboard’s version is better because it draws from hundreds of top publishers and curated by a staff of 20 journalists working around the clock pulling in the best content from the company’s partners and other sources identified by the algorithm.
McCue said that Flipboard — which launched in 2010 and raised a $50-million round of financing last year, giving it a valuation of close to $1 billion — continues to grow quickly, adding about 250,000 users a day. He wouldn’t give any engagement numbers but said most users interact with the app “many, many times a day.”