Tech exec invests in digital information start-up launched by veteran journalists
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A digital news start-up founded by seasoned journalists received an investment from a top tech manager.
The start-up, which is expected to start in the fall, is partly led by long-time National Geographic manager Mark Bauman. The venture was funded by tech entrepreneur Brian Edelman, who runs RAIN, a company that specializes in helping companies develop language technology software.
RAIN lists technology companies on its website that it has worked with in the past, such as Amazon, Google, and Microsoft.
Bauman told CNBC in an interview on Friday that Edelman was part of a Series A funding round worth over $ 10 million. The company’s other investor is International Media Investments, a United Arab Emirates-based fund with a portfolio that includes other media companies such as The National, Euronews and Sky News Arabia.
Edelman’s LinkedIn page states that he is the CEO and founding partner of RAIN. His company’s website states that it has offices in New York, Utah, and Washington state. Bauman told CNBC that Edelman itself is investing globally, with an emphasis on technology and new media. Bauman also noted that Edelman has done some work in the Middle East.
Edelman’s investment in the company gives a glimpse of how some executives see the value of digital news companies that have grown over the past year.
At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, CNBC digital had a record 115 million unique visitors in March 2020 alone. The New York Times reported last April that traffic on its news site had increased by more than 50 percent, as had that of the Washington Post. Saudi Arabia is funding a digital news site that has yet to be canceled.
Bauman referred all other questions about Edelman’s investment to the tech entrepreneur. An email to RAIN was not returned.
Axios first reported on the new company and International Media Investments, which were part of the latest financing round, but had no details on Edelman’s investment.
Bauman confirmed to CNBC that he will be President and CEO of the as-yet-officially named news agency, and Laura McGann, who has worked at Politico and Vox.com, will be the editor-in-chief. They report to the board members Madhulika Sikka, David Ensor, Chris Isham, John Defterios and Alberto Fernandez. All board members have years of experience in news and politics.
The job postings for the upcoming digital news business provide a glimpse into the topics readers will see on the site.
For example, the company is hiring a reporter to cover China with the aim of “identifying the most important and interesting angles and issues, ranging from trade to territorial ambitions; from climate change to the Belt & Road Initiative; and the many facets of US-China relations, “says the job posting.
A political and government reporter “will be responsible for reporting how existing flaws in the American political system and new attacks on it pose a profound threat to the future of a representative and responsive government in the United States.”
You also have a job for a misinformation reporter who will “cover the rise in misinformation, one of the most influential phenomena driving our public discourse and shaping our lives.”