Fascinating story here that could have far reaching implications for us all in this industry. Or possibly none at all depending on your point of view about how much change is yet to come and whether that might involve a host of new platforms and services. Entrepreneur Corey Ford has not only posed the question, asking what is the future of journalism, publishing and media, but he is investing $50k in five companies to see if they can find the answer.
He is applying the spirit of tech start-ups to journalism as part of a four-month rolling accelerator project in San Francisco. The project, called Matter, will provide not only investment to start-ups, but space to work and a “collaborative community and culture” to help “teams validate their ideas”, and gain traction with their audience.
The four month start-up programme is designed for media startups with multi-disciplinary teams who have early-stage prototypes, such as participatory platforms, mobile applications, B2B media services, or content production engines.
Matter says that its values are “rooted in storied media institutions that have been producing media that matters for decades, media that stands for something and creates a strong, positive signal in the ever increasing noise, but that its “point of view is pure Silicon Valley entrepreneurship”.
“Our culture is grounded heavily in design thinking and lean startup methodology. We believe you need to be audience-centered and prototype-driven while seeking a scalable, repeatable, profitable business model. You have to fail early and often to succeed sooner.”
Matter says it will invest in entrepreneurs who show “high potential to create media ventures that make a meaningful, positive impact on society” while pursuing a sustainable, scalable and, oh yes, profitable business model.
The plan is not just for four months. That’s the incubator period, but over the course of two years, the fund will run four class cycles, each consisting of five start-ups. Many and most of those business might fail, but there is always the chance that the next Twitter, Instagram or Tumblr will emerge.
Ford, a former journalist with Frontline who most recently ran Runway, an early stage venture capital firm, says that like Twitter it is important to remember that everything big started small.
“The institutions that create meaningful media today seem like they’ve been around forever. But they were built from scratch by risk takers who started with an experiment and a vision for how they could impact the world through media. Matter is where today’s aspiring entrepreneurs can build the meaningful media institutions of tomorrow,” Ford said.
He told Gigaom that they picked the name of the accelerator, Matter, to signify what they are looking for in companies, and also where journalism should go.
“We said, what we needed badly was a brand that talked about what we care about, that preservers the value of public media, that we look back and say, that matters. That stands out in the signals and the noise,” he said.