Track Your Friends (and Colleagues) in the News

What did we do before Google alerts?

If you’re like us, and like to stalk keep track of people, Newsle is targeting you. It’s a web app that tracks people in the news and now, after raising $600,000, led by New York investment firm Lerer Media Ventures (Ken Lerer, co-founder of Huffington Post, is the firm’s general partner), it has added instant news alerts to its features. That’s right. Newsle finds articles about your friends and colleagues and notifies you soon after they’re published. In addition, the app allows you to follow politicians, CEOs, celebrities, and other public figures you’re interested in.

This is how it works: Newsle combs the web continuously, analyzing more than one million articles each day – every major news article and blog post published online, as well as most minor ones. The service currently tracks over three million individuals. The site’s core technology, its disambiguation algorithm, which determines whether an article mentioning “John Smith” is about the right person, is now more accurate.

There are also features to make staying in touch easier. For example, if a colleague makes the news for starting a new business or winning an award, users can click Newsle’s “congratulate” button. The app also has fame rankings to feed narcissism and make us feel bad about ourselves at the same time.

Of course the service was started by two sophomores at Harvard – Axel Hansen and Jonah Varon – who have since left school to focus full-time on their startup.