We officially launched “Apollo News” yesterday. It is the first product (of many) to come out of Hawthorne Labs in Palo Alto; a company started by a couple of Ex-Google News folks and a Stanford MBA. We were very fortunate to get quite a bit of press from some of the top tech news sites including Techcrunch, Silicon Alley Insider, Fast Company, Inc.com and others which gave us some visibility yesterday.
In the Techcrunch article, I was quoted in saying that one of our goals was to “deliver the final blow to the newspaper industry” and there has been a fair bit of controversy surrounding that statement. There was some sentiment that I was criticizing the very news sources that our application is aggregating from. The title of another article from NBC Bay Area stated that our “Startup wants to aggregate content from organizations it wants to destroy.”
To be clear, we definitely do not want to destroy content providers (and are very aware that if they didn’t exist, neither would Apollo). We are not currently in the content creation business and thus rely on thousands of traditional news sites and journalists to create the content that we then push to our users. We also are relying on user-created content from many of the newer social media sites. I consider Quora to be one of my top daily news destinations and I would guess that most people hardly consider that to be news in the traditional sense. Blogs, twtter and facebook all are full of great news content as well.
What I was trying to express is that the traditional newspaper (and system that surrounds print news) is dying. It is slowly becoming obsolete as younger people are relying on these newer sources to get their news. I don’t know a single person my age that still subscribes to a traditional print newspaper. The method of delivery is changing, but so is the source of the content.
If traditional news outlets do not see this change and adapt their models accordingly, they will be dead. Companies like Hawthorne Labs that focus on personalization, social, and the “non-traditional” news sources previously mentioned will win the news war. I do think there is a place for great journalists and professionals in the industry, but their role is quickly changing. Users no longer will go to one place to read a story about Lebron James; they want to skim 30 different perspectives about the topic.
The traditional newspaper is dead, but great news sources are not. We are hoping to find and work together with them.
Founder and CEO, Hawthorne Labs