“The last time we were in New York, the big publishers were very wary of us,” said Akshay Kothari, co-founder of the news reading app Pulse, who visited the Betabeat offices during a whirlwind tour of the city. “The last time they were concerned about how we would monetize it. Now they want to partner with us and figure out how to do business together.”
Kothari founded Pulse along with Ankit Gupta when the pair where still undergraduates at Stanford. It was a dynamic, visual way to browse RSS feeds and became a top selling iPad app, but success was not without controversy. The New York Times complained to Apple that Pulse violated their copyright, and a public flap ensued.
“We found ourselves in the center of a huge change,” Mr. Gupta said. “We should have started out company here. Out in the Valley, our biggest competitor has raised close to $60 million dollars to our $1 million. We wouldn’t have any idea what to do with that money.”
The pair are taking time in between meeting with Hearst, Conde Nast, The New York Times and News Corp. to try and poach a local developers. “Back home, everything is so overheated, even a Stanford undergrad expects a six figure salary. We met with an incredibly talented prospect last night, and he just seemed much more…rational.”
When the Pulse app first took off, the audience was mostly from the early adopter crowd, so getting good sources of tech news was key. Now, with more than three million users, having access to premium content from mainstream titles is a priority for Pulse. “We see people using our app on the go, snacking on news in five minute sessions, not sitting down for a deep dive,” says Kothari. “We can help big organizations to understand this new paradigm, and they can access great stories for our users.”