Bad news for the liberally inclined and easily distracted: Today the New York Times offers an inside look at the latest startup looking to disrupt your workday with viral content. Upworthy (which launched in late March) is a high-minded new aggregator designed to share content that is meaningful and important, rather than merely hilarious or WTF-inspiring.
Tl;dr: It’s Buzzfeed, but founded by MoveOn alums.
Founders Eli Pariser (formerly executive director of MoveOn.org) and Peter Koechley (formerly The Onion‘s managing editor), the site was built on the observation that most stuff on the Internet is all sugar, no bran. Mr. Pariser told the Times, “We want to give people the information and tools that help make them better, more aware citizens.”
That sounds awfully AP Government for the Internet’s interests, but the site’s cheeky explainer is a little more promising in terms of entertainment value. It features cats and concludes with a blast-from-past note proclaiming, “This is a chain letter. Share it with at least 500 friends right now or someone somewhere will get a horrible disease. (True fact.)”
So instead of skateboarding dogs, think Nicki Minaj systematically demolishing the double standard, all while wearing a magnificent pink beehive perched on her head.
And wait, what’s that–do we see signs of the Facebook mafia stirring? The startup is backed by newly wedded Facebook cofounder Chris Hughes, who apparently decided that he didn’t have quite enough on his plate merely reinvigorating The New Republic (which he now owns and edits) and being a Democratic mover and shaker. He explained his interest to the Times:
“People in the media business often think they have to choose between mass appeal and substance,” Mr. Hughes said in an e-mail. “What I love about Upworthy — and what excites me about the significant traction they’re getting — is the plan to do both at the same time. Eli and Peter have an instinctive sense of what drives people to share on the Internet.”
Let’s just hope Upworthy fares a little better traction-wise than Mr. Hughes’ ill-fated socially inclined social network, Jumo.
Also, wait a minute–isn’t this man still on his honeymoon? Take a day off, Mr. Hughes! Even the single-minded Zuck devoted at least a week to undertipping his way across Italy.