- Nuzzel, the addictive news-reading app, is launching a search-based news-monitoring service for professionals.
- Nuzzel Media Monitoring will charge $50 a month.
- The pivot comes after Nuzzel failed to become a mass-market product with a viable advertising revenue model.
Nuzzel, the app that lets you see news headlines ranked by their importance to your friends on social media, is changing direction, according to CEO and founder Jonathan Abrams.
The original Nuzzel app essentially “fixed” the biggest problem with Twitter: While Twitter lets you see an incoming stream of news headlines, it doesn’t present them based on their relevance to you or your social network. Nuzzel sorted through news stories and ranked them according to who had shared them most, and most recently, on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin. The result was a useful, customised news feed that did not require any curation effort from users.
The company will now focus on a new subscription-based product for professionals and businesses that lets people monitor the news media for keywords and topics. Nuzzel Media Intelligence is currently being tested with a few hundred users, Abrams told Business Insider. For $50 (£36) per month, Nuzzel will monitor 100,000 news sources and send you reports and digests via email or a Slack integration. The results are ranked using the social media signals that drive the free version of Nuzzel.
The pivot comes after several “surreal” years in which the company took $5-6 million in investments from VC funders, Abrams told us. While Nuzzel was wildly popular with its users – who tended to be journalists and venture capitalists – that user base was small. The app gained only 1 million or fewer monthly active users. That left Abrams in the position of frequently receiving praise from the app’s high-profile addicts (such as Matt Cutts, the ex-head of the anti-webspam team at Google; Nikesh Arora, the former vice chairman of SoftBank; and Marc Benioff, CEO and founder of Salesforce), but not actually having a viable revenue stream to keep it going. “So many investors use Nuzzel and love it we could have kept getting more money,” Abrams said. “But the reality is that it was never going to turn into a business.”
Nuzzel tried adding an email newsletter product and a Messenger chatbot to complement the app, but the reality is that most people get their news from their Facebook News Feed. That’s ironic, because Abrams was the founder of Friendster, a forerunner to Facebook whose patents were ultimately acquired by Mark Zuckerberg’s company.
“At Apple, Twitter, Facebook – at every one of those companies there are people who use Nuzzel. It’s flattering but ultimately it’s not a business,” Abrams says. “What people are actually using [to get their news] is Facebook, for better or for worse. Probably worse because people are getting fake news from Facebook.”
Nuzzel Media Intelligence will face competition, most obviously from Google’s News Alerts, which is free. Abrams sees a wide range of positions in the news monitoring business, from legacy services like LexisNexis to newer VC funded dashboards like London’s Signal Media. Prices range from $0 (Google) to $15,000 (£10,900) per month.
Nuzzel Media Intelligence thus brings two new weapons to the fight: 1) $50 is actually pretty cheap for traditional news monitoring services of the kind often used by PR agencies, investors and law firms. 2) Abrams believes Nuzzel’s use of social media mentions as a way of ranking the importance of stories is unique.
“We have already received requests from other companies for API access to our Media Intelligence reports and our news search technology, and we plan to make significant investments in our platform, and build integrations with other business software systems, such as sales and marketing software,” Abrams said.