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Zite has left the building : News app popular among lawyers acquired by Flipboard


Zite, which I’ve described as a Pandora for content, has been acquired by Flipboard.

Zite, which had previously been acquired by CNN, was popular among lawyers because of its ability to curate news and information on niche subjects. As opposed to having to subscribe to feeds from various sources and on key phrases on a reader such as Feedly, Zite curated the most influential content on a subject, for example bankruptcy.

The more a lawyer used Zite for sharing or by marking preferences, the “smarter” Zite got. You got more and more of what you liked.

For bloggers, Zite served as powerful listening tool to follow what leading bloggers and reporters were writing on a subject. By sharing on short form social media what you were reading and referencing in your blog what you reading, you networked for business development.

I really admired the guys at Zite and what they created. You can see why in their CTO Mike Klass’ (@mikeklass) post about the acquisition.

Ali Davar and I founded a company in 2005 called Worio whose mission was help people find information they weren’t getting through friends, social media, or search. Our plan was to deploy sophisticated machine learning techniques to understand people and content to build a better search engine. A short six years later, we released a news app for the iPad called Zite. The specifics were different from what we imagined in 2005, but the vision remained intact: not to “filter” news, not to save people time skimming headlines, but to understand them well enough to find that one article from an obscure blogger about medieval knitting they didn’t know existed and would have never have otherwise found, but is exactly what they were looking for.

Though it’s expected that Flipboard will incorporate technology from Zite, the Zite app is going to shutdown. From Klass:

Our goal is to get the things that are great about Zite into Flipboard before shutting it down. We will also build a way for you to transition your data from Zite into Flipboard. Until then (for six months at a minimum), we will continue supporting Zite. Our users mean the world to us; after all, what Flipboard saw in us, you saw first. We hope you come with us and help us shape the future of news.

Much of how we look at the world today is based on search. We search for things on Google. We subscribe to searches from Google News. We subscribe to blogs and news sites via RSS.

More powerful than search is discovery. If a machine knows what you like, the sources you follow, and who you trust when they share content, the machine can tailor information for you. Just tell the machine who you are and it’ll serve up the news and information you’re interested in – no search.

That was Zite. When I logged in with my Gmail address and shared with Zite my social networking and Google Reader accounts, Zite preloaded folders of content it created. Those folders included ones on social media, entrepreneurship, baseball, technology, and business. Wow, talk about knowing my interests and bringing me content. All without a search or telling Zite my interests.

Mike McCue (@mmccue), the CEO Flipboard, understood what guys like me wanted from Flipboard and how Zite could fill the void.

[A]lthough you can already read thousands of sources from over 20 regions on Flipboard, you want easier and better ways to discover content about the things that matter to you. Adding Zite’s expertise in personalization and recommendations to Flipboard’s product experience and powerful curator community will create an unparalleled personal magazine for our millions of readers. (emphasis added)

I am optimistic that the Zite experience will live on and make for an even better Flipboard. I’ve been testing Flipboard as a “discovery” tool by subscribing to subjects, but the experience has been lacking and the content stale when compared to Zite.

Thanks to the guys at Zite for building a great app which has improved the lives of many lawyers and the people they serve.