Inside 2.0

Curating the best journalism in real-time

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Erik Torenberg


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Ryan Hoover — Product Hunt
Inside just released an update to their real-time news feed app on iOS and Android, most notably adding push notifications for breaking news.

There's a continued trend toward push notification-based apps where the primary interaction and use is passive consumption of push notifications. I don't have to open the app or do anything else to get value out of it -- the product is the notification itself. Which brings to question, how do you measure engagement and gather feedback (qualitative or quantitative) when the user never opens your app?
jason — ceo, writer, event host & angel
@rrhoover Our Alert System should be the best one ever created for mobile, and perhaps tied with Google for the web. The key feature is you can get only "important" updates (with a human deciding this story is important in and this one isn't).
Fareed Mosavat — VP Product, RunKeeper
@rrhoover For Breeze, we track "breeze users" as well as a traditional active user metric based on app opens and look really closely at opt-out rates for push notifications, open rates from those pushes, and the % of WBU who open the app. I hope that richer notifications w/ actions on iOS will help us build better experiences for our users who never choose to open the app.
jason — ceo, writer, event host & angel
@far33d +1 on rich notifications. I know @mg did a screen shot of a Circa one on day of WWDC
Daniel Hanks — Some guy
@jason - congrats on v2.0. Love reading your passion about the product above. Three questions:
1) What have you learned about how people/users want to consume news?
2) News has been curated from the beginning (e.g. NYT determining what's on Page 1, NBC news selectively filling 22 minutes, etc.). Why are you excited about how Inside is attacking it?
3) Where do you see the news industry in 5-10 years?
jason — ceo, writer, event host & angel

1. They want control over their topics in a very granular way. That's why we created this screen:

2. News haven't been curated by the NYTimes as much as selected. Curating news means you look at the 25 people who covered Tim Draper buying the seized bitcoins today and pick the best story out there. The NYT is one of those 25 stories, so they are part of the noise problem (a good part of it to be sure).

2b. I'm excited because I have 50 curators I've personally trained curating 24 hours a day (and have been 24 hours a day for six months!). They are doing a fantastic job ALREADY. In another six months we might have 2-5x that number and be 2-3x as good at curating. Folks tell us they are addicted to the App (and the numbers back that up), so I think is we curate 1-5% better a week we will be in SICK shape in 2015.

3. A complete fucking mess, filled with conflicts, dying giants, new brands, new best practices and overall more brilliant content than has ever been created. It's going to insane and awesome.... and I think in 5-10 years you could see Circa, Inside and Flipboard having as many staffers are the incumbents.
Guy Gal — Growth at Joyus
Your candor is refreshing @jason.

I was using both Circa and Inside for a month or so before I went full-on Circa only.

I'm a big news junky, but Inside was giving me everything, and much like the trend we're seeing in apps, I tend to prefer single-purpose news sources.

Circa gives me the top stories "I need to know" with an objective point of view, so I can trust the information because the "journalists" keep the books balanced. Their articles read like two articles from partisan news sources had a really cute baby that sleeps well at night and plays well with others.

I get editorial from Rachel Maddow Show podcast, Young Turks podcast, Product Hunt podcast obviously, and TWIST.

I get tech news from Launch/TC/Pando.

And the rest I discover from my FB + Twitter feeds.

When I consider Launch in contrast to Inside, I'm tempted to say that I would be more likely to check 4 apps on my phone that were specific to the 4 categories I care about than one big app that gives me every category and story.

Imagine every category in its own app like Launch with an editor of Jason's caliber on each... drool.

An Inside for fashion, health + fitness, science, Launch, entertainment, travel, sports, etc... each of these categories have endless subcats. When you handle them all in one app it prevents you from going deep on any specific one and you lose the junkies that should form the foundation of your active user base. That's why the magazine publishers have done so well. It's not so much about the editors (the message) as much as it is about the focused categories (the medium).

From a business perspective, also a compelling model. A mobile news network like this gives you the ability to reach audiences that have cohesive personas so you can sell advertising at a premium. Also lends well to partnerships, like a @rrhoover @eriktorenberg Product Hunt edit series on the tech ticker (Launch). You can put Hearst/CN/Time to sleep.

An unbundled and distributed news ticker publishing network would also be more conducive to community building.

Just thinking about this I feel the urge to spin it up but you're way more obsessed than I would ever be about this problem, I just want the solution.

Have you ever given this thought? If so, why did you forego the network approach in favor of a platform?

One users's opinion!
jason — ceo, writer, event host & angel
@guygal said "Imagine every category in its own app like Launch with an editor of Jason's caliber on each... drool. "

Hmm.... I can imagine that actually. ;-)
Erik Torenberg — Product Hunt
@guygal love the analysis and partnership recommendation :)
Erik Torenberg — Product Hunt
Been a huge fan of TWIST for a few years now. i heard mixed things about the launch of inside, but version 2.0 looks awesome.

Especially since we just had Grasswire blow up the other day - - will be really curious to see what everyone thinks about Inside, especially how it compares with the other major news apps out there.
jason — ceo, writer, event host & angel
@eriktorenberg right now there are a small number of Apps out there doing anything interesting in the news space. Here is what I think of them:

1. Circa: Awesome meta-journalism (not curation), gorgeous design & savvy product team. When we are curating a major story we find Circa is MORE compelling for mobile users than the New York Times in most cases. [ disclosure: I'm an investor ]

2. Flipboard on iPad: I never locked into a groove with flipboard as I (personally) don't like the magazine format as much as data-rich formats (like Inside). HOWEVER, I think their best product is their last: magazines. Flipboard is fantastic, but magazines could be an ecosystem like YouTube or Tumblr. If I was MM I would spin that platform into a CMS and let folks make their own magazines with dedicated Apps. It would go supernova.

3. Nuzzle/Newsle: Both have nailed what Twitter struggles with: reducing noise and increasing signal from/about your friends.
Erik Torenberg — Product Hunt
@jason love the insight. @jtriest put me on to Circa and @hunterwalk put me on to Nuzzle.

how does Inside position itself in the news space among these players - what's it's competitive advantage? What's the ultimate vision for Inside?
jason — ceo, writer, event host & angel
@eriktorenberg Nuzzle is a list of what your friends are talking about, Circa is the top (20? 30? 50?) stories today selected by brilliant people & is 1,000 summaries of best jouralism today with a sick alert system. All three are worthy of being on your home screen.
Ross Rojek — CTO, GoLocalApps
@jason Having been in publishing for 6 years now and tried multiple digital formats, I'm still looking for a good platform. They're all too expensive, require dedicated software (usually pricey) and complicated systems.

Re: Flipboard, I've been finding it more irritating lately. Too many articles require clickthrough, or don't entirely load (only get pages 1-3 of 8).
Huffington Post isn't bad at top stories, but often the same problem, loading a website that doesn't format for a phone screen.
I like curation when I trust the source, but also like the serendipity of unusual links I may not have looked for.
jason — ceo, writer, event host & angel
@SacBookReviewer the lack of mobile friendly websites does kill the news space. Any ideas of how to solve that anyone?

we and circa solve this by writing our own content, which is a nice start... but folks frequently go to the destinations.
Ross Rojek — CTO, GoLocalApps
@jason until legacy businesses understand that mobile friendly has to be a part of all web decisions, it's going to be hit or miss. And even if all new websites going forward were based on responsive platforms, you still have a huge amount of sites where there isn't enough cost advantage in upgrading to mobile friendly.

You would think that it'd be a priority, but when the NYT can't get to it, why would anyone else?
jason — ceo, writer, event host & angel
Honored to be here.... AMA?
Jerry Jones — CEO, Repartee
Edit: May as well revise this question, since you discussed Circa in another answer. How do you communicate to users the differences between meta-journalism and curation? Seems non-obvious on the surface / to users.

Previously: How does Inside plan to differentiate from other "bite sized news" services like Circa?
jason — ceo, writer, event host & angel
@jerryhjones Circa hires journalists to tell stories. We hire curators to showcase great storytellers. Circa is an awesome channel we are the channel guide. Circa is the destination, we are a map to great destinations.

There is a lot of confusion about Circa and Inside because we both are rewriting headlines/stories. This is something we created two years ago in our MVP the LAUNCH Ticker, where I had a researcher unspin the linkbaiting headlines I was pissed off about. Circa came out after that, but they had a similar idea and reasoning. When I heard it I was like "damn, these are smart peoples, I need to invest!"

The two services really are complimentary. We do 500-1,000 summaries a day across 100k topics (and growing). This is wildly different than Circa focusing in on the MOST important of those 1,000 stories and doing them 10x better than we do.

Frankly, I think mobile news is Circa, Inside, Flipboard & Nuzzle -- everything else is just window dressing (NYTimes Now is lame, Yahoo News Digest is cute but lame, etc).
Ryan Hoover — Product Hunt
yo, @Jason! As you know, I've been following Inside since the beginning when it was a Google Doc (smart MVP).

After pivoting from Mahalo after the Google Panda update, you started working on the Launch Ticker and Inside. Of all the things you could be working on, why this?
jason — ceo, writer, event host & angel
@rrhoover 1. I love news, 2. I hate linkbaiting bullshit, 3. No one has won news on mobile and whoever does will have a Unicorn on their hands.

I want a unicorn. Badly.

I've raised a bunch of ponies and thoroughbreds, but after watching Travis do Uber, Elon do Tesla, Drew do Dropbox, David do Yammer and a never ending list of my friends make big, important things I'm driven to take this one to the promise land.

Mahalo was an awesome effort by a killer team. We hit $10m a year in advertising (all networks), 15m uniques and we were in the top 150 sites in the USA. Matt Cutts killing the business really pissed me off as well. he just smiled and told me "you don't have a penalty" with a shit-eating grin.... they targeted us for destruction and i had to layoff 80 americans working from home full-time. Salt of the earth people.... people making $500-700 a week... while the people at Google are spending $200 a week on gourmet food.

I've still got that Google kicking our ass fire in my belly. I want to come back from them jumping me in the parking lot and have my revenge.
Pranay Srinivasan — CEO, Sourceasy Inc (
@jason I remember you talking about having that blood in your mouth from Your New York days.

Nothing like channelled anger to build a world class startup.

Hope Inside does what you envision it to.
Ryan Hoover — Product Hunt
@jason wow. I respect the intensity. I know you like to invest in entrepreneurs with a chip on their shoulder. :)

While I agree that no one has won news on mobile, what _really_ is missing in the market? I could be wrong but it seems that most consumers are OK with their current consumption of news. What is the "hook" that will make them turn to Inside incessantly, above other solutions?
Mack Flavelle —
@jason my favourite phunt comment to date.
jason — ceo, writer, event host & angel
@rrhoover most consumer are very frustrated and don't trust the news actually. Study after study shows this. We have to work on TRUST in news and stop manipulating people.
Eric Metelka — Product Manager, PowerReviews
@jason Love everything about this comment
John Exley — Sales, Yieldmo
@jason I know this was a while ago (3 weeks ago), but this has to be one of the most real comments I've ever seen. Legendary.
Thomas Griffin — CEO, ArtSquare
@jason interesting discussion so far. Curious about how to facilitate trust and engagement simultaneously. I think that's why Twitter is such a powerful platform. It would be cool to track discrepancies in news/stories and evaluate storytellers and weighting user-submitted content by their relative proximity to the story (ie CEO joining convo brings high credibility). Somehow applying the 'aggregate verification' that the blockchain provides for Bitcoin transactions to news and stories would be an interesting application that I haven't seen anyone working on.
Abdel Ibrahim — Investor, Creator of @techhunterco
Nice job on 2.0 @jason. I run my own little curation site. What you're doing is great and I'm sure it's super challenging to cover so many subjects.
jason — ceo, writer, event host & angel
@abdophoto thanks pal
Molly Matthieson — Digital, WME
@jason - enjoying the new version of inside. Do you ever see a “lite” version of Inside for readers who want to see the top 5-10 newsworthy items of the day but don’t have the time to scroll through the entire feed and manually follow stories? I’m particularly interested in “must read” news which is why I think companies like The Skimm are onto something, attracting casual readers which seems to be a largely untapped market on mobile.

Also, can you explain how your staff decides which source to summarize from when multiple news outlets publish similar stories? You will become an important source of traffic for those sites as you grow, is there an internal process by which you go about selecting the source?
jason — ceo, writer, event host & angel
@mlymat we have an API and i would love to see a product hunt person build a lite version....
jason — ceo, writer, event host & angel
@mlymat we pick the person who put the most work into covering the story, and usually that's the person who broke it.

if it's a big story like flight mh370 obviously there is room for people to break various items and we will cover them all (if important). you can see that here:
Andrew Brackin — Marketing at Jobr (Acquired by Monster)
I really like the intent of Inside and the app works well but needs refinements to really hit product market fit.

I think they need to work out a much better way to give the channels more uniqueness to show that the content is hand written and make it easier to find interesting content, maybe bundling them into groups (letting me uncheck bitcoin from tech, let's say). Rather than a hundred check boxes. The community elements could add a reddit like community.

I'm a big news app user and only consume on mobile. I use Circa, /r/worldnews, Yahoo News Digest, NYTimes Now and BBC News.
jason — ceo, writer, event host & angel
@brackin all great ideas/concerns Andrew. We are avast in hundreds of quality updates... and we need to figure out how to get you the BEST ONE for RIGHT NOW. That's a great challenge for our tech team, and they will crush it I'm certain.
Ross Rojek — CTO, GoLocalApps
@jason Tried having a link for Circa texted to me and never got it. Fyi.
@ChuckReynolds — build & track websites. cofounder Vuurr
moar curated news apps... maybe it's better? downloading to check it out.
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