Friends that read together...

Social news curation app Nuzzel finds backers in the media world

Though it may be short on manners and healthy discourse, the Internet is almost certainly never short on content. There is so much content floating around the web, in fact, sorting through it and curating it has become a multi-million dollar business. Enter Nuzzel, the personalized news curation app that just secured a slew of new investors from a land beyond the walled kingdom of Silicon Valley.

Nuzzel, a startup founded by Jonathan Abrams (founder of Friendster, the social networking app of yore), is a news delivery service and app that curates web content based on activity in your social circles, news you might be interested in, and things you might’ve missed in a clear, uncluttered feed. Using Facebook or Twitter, Nuzzel pulls together stories that your friends are reading and sharing under the assumption that if you’re friends with or following someone on either site, it’s likely because you have a fair number of shared interests.

To be clear, this kind of socially influenced content curation isn’t new. It exists on a number of apps both operational and defunct, from Digg to Flipboard. However, the fact that it doesn’t play a huge part in the habits of most content consumers and that we’re often still Gchatting links to one another suggests that it the social curation functionality is still missing a vital piece of the puzzle: Nuzzel, perhaps.

Investors in this round include Matter, a startup accelerator funded by the likes of the McClatchy Group, Associated Press, and Google News Lab, along with a half a dozen individuals touting credentials from a laundry list of media money bigs: The Wall Street Journal, Business Insider, The Guardian, CNBC International and more. While the dollar signs are far from unimportant in a funding round, the “who” and “why” are much more noteworthy in this case.

Since the Nuzzel team comes from the Silicon Valley & Internet world, not the traditional news/media world, and our existing investors were mainly from the Silicon Valley world, we thought it would be useful to Nuzzel to add some investors from the news/media world,” says Jonathan Abrams, founder of Nuzzel. “This was less about money and more about getting news industry veterans as advisors to Nuzzel.”

The fact that investors from the news and media world are backing Nuzzel is key because as former publishers, CEOs and board members of some the largest media organizations, they are likely not easily wooed by attempts at distribution and curation. The media industry is rife with plans and concepts to deliver content to willing and eager eyes. In a world driven by page views, there are many trying to crack the code to simple and effective distribution, but most are wildly ineffective and unsuccessful.

“As CEO of the Guardian I saw many new digital products innovating in the news/content space. Few cut the mustard,” says Andrew Miller, former CEO of the Guardian and one of Nuzzel’s most recent investors. “An exception however is Nuzzel which successfully declutters my newsfeeds and surfaces only relevant content.”

A financial vote of confidence from those who have had plenty of contact with new approaches to content curation is a promising sign for Nuzzel, which is looking to beef up their offerings for publishers.

For example, we are thinking of how Nuzzel can work with publishers in the future, i.e. perhaps we should offer some sort of widget or way for publishers to use syndicated feeds from Nuzzel,” says Abrams “Those are the kinds of things that these new investors will help advise us on.”

While the funding round is a big step in the right direction for the budding content curation darling, the key to success for Nuzzel will be something that no funding round can provide: more users. With powerful integrations like Slack, Pocket and Buffer, paired with new incentives and tools for publishers and the pedigree of the investors behind it, though, Nuzzel’s just might become content’s next big “must-have.”