CNN buys Vancouver news app creator

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zite app on iPadCNN is embracing the trend of consumers getting news through iPad magazines by buying Vancouver news app creator Zite for a rumoured $20 million to $25 million.

Ali Davar founded the company in 2005 at the University of British Columbia, which has an equity stake in the venture.

Originally known as Worio, the company focused on finding content based on what key words a user entered.

Davar, and employees such as Mike Klaas, built the company to five full-time staff before changing its focus to developing an iPad magazine app, and bringing on San Francisco-based Mark Scott as an adviser in late 2009. Scott became CEO on April 26. 

“We’ll still have an office in Vancouver,” Scott told Business in Vancouver August 30. 

“Don’t worry. We have strong roots in Vancouver, and we’d like to continue that. We’re not moving all our staff. We’re going to keep a satellite office in Vancouver, and our headquarters will be down here in San Francisco.”

The eight-person company has been bootstrapped by funding from angel investors Precarn Inc. and the Canadian government through scientific research and experimental development (SH&ED) grants. 

“Media companies really see us as an ally,” Scott said. “We’re a discovery engine that helps people find content that they would otherwise not have read. 

“There’s also a lot of sharing on Zite – 10% of stories are shared. That’s really exciting for publishers because we can really push the content out there to people who wouldn’t have seen it.”

Zite users get a generic template of interesting news content when they first start using the app. Once they start clicking links and sharing stories, the app is able to determines what future news they would most want to see. 

Glen Korstrom
Twitter: GlenKorstrom

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