Jim Spencer On Mobile Video News & Newsy’s $1.5M Funding Round

We talk to president and founder of Newsy, Jim Spencer, about the inspiration behind Newsy, mobile video news, the company's latest $1.5M funding round, and what makes Newsy different from other video news sources.

Online multisource video news site Newsy announced last week that they had raised $1.5 million in funding for mobile video news.  According to a press release, “The round of funding comes from a St. Louis-based private equity firm and will be used to grow the company’s editorial, marketing and sales teams.”  I had the opportunity to ask Newsy’s founder and president Jim Spencer a few questions about this latest $1.5M funding round, as well as some questions about Newsy in general.  Read on to find out what he had to say.

Before we get to my interview with Jim, here’s a little bit of background on Newsy.  Newsy is a multisource video news service, which means that it highlights multiple online video sources to provide a more well rounded view of the news, highlighting the differences in reporting from various sources.  The Newsy website explains, “Newsy.com takes a step back to show how the world’s news organizations are reporting a story—providing an unprecedented global and macro point of view.  You’ll find CNN right next to Al Jazeera, the BBC right next to ABC.”  Newsy also offers their short multisource news clips via iPhone, iPad, BlackBerry and Android apps.

The following video is a recent example of what Newsy’s reports look like.  Check it out and then read on to find out what Spencer had to say about Newsy’s beginnings, what makes Newsy different from other news sources and the recent investment below.

Megan at Social Times: Where did the idea for Newsy come from and how did it become a reality?

Newsy Founder and President Jim Spencer: As a news junky, I’ve always consumed multiple sources whether on TV, print or the web.  News about the Iraq war in the summer of 2007 illustrated how different coverage could be depending on the media outlet.  Around this time, the technical barriers for online video had been overcome—YouTube was an established player and Hulu was coming onto the scene.  Furthermore, reports showed that most consumers distrust the media and seek multiple sources of news.

All of these factors helped me realize the opportunity for an online video news analysis service.  I put together a prototype in the fall of 2007 and pitched it in the winter of 2008 to investors and the Missouri School of Journalism (widely considered one of the top schools for journalism in the world).  We relocated the company from Silicon Valley to Columbia, Missouri in the summer of 2008 and launched our iPhone app and website in 2009.  Momentum continued to build and we launched our iPad app last Spring, which climbed all the way to #1 on the iTunes chart for news.

Megan: What makes Newsy different from other news sources?

Jim Spencer:  Newsy is an analyzer, not an aggregator—we’re truly the only video news service that highlights the key differences in reporting.  Newsy allows users to compare sources to assess bias and dig deeper into a story.  Our users tell us they love Newsy because it introduces them to sources they would not have found on their own.  In two minutes, we analyze varying perspectives and package them into two-minute nuggets—making you smarter, faster.

Megan: What details can you share about the investment?

Jim Spencer: It’s our Series B – we will use it to expand our editorial, marketing and sales staff.

Megan: What is the next step for Newsy?  Do you plan to launch any new features, upgrades, etc.?

Jim Spencer: Currently we’re developing a new version of our award-winning iPad app with improved speed and performance and cutting-edge design elements.  Newsy is also designing a new look for our website and video player.  Constantly improving all of our apps for the iPhone, Android and BlackBerry is a top objective.

Megan O’Neill is the resident web video enthusiast here at Social Times.  Megan covers everything from the latest viral videos to online video news and tips, and has a passion for bizarre, original and revolutionary content and ideas.