Song-naming service Shazam just raised another $30 million a new valuation of $1 billion. “Over the past eight years, Shazam has raised $125 million in equity funding as revenue has soared, though it has not made a profit over that period,” The Verge reports. But, that’s not because Shazam has lacked a monetization strategy. As The Verge notes: “The company earns commissions on purchased songs that users discover using its service, as well as advertisements in its app.”
Digital magazine shop Magzter is rolling out a new subscription model that gives unlimited access to a library of 2,000 titles. Participating publishers include Hearst, Conde Nast, Newsweek and Maxim. “The new subscription package, Magzter Gold, gives users unlimited access to a library of 2,000 titles across mobile, tablet and the web for $9.99 per month,” The Next Web reports. Also, “the Magzter app offers recommendations based on your interests and how you interact with content.”
Capital New York checks in on the site formerly known as Rap Genius. Now just Genius, the site has branched out beyond its humble beginnings as a platform for white people to make sense of rap lyrics. Among other offerings, the startup just launched “what could become its most significant feature — the ability to annotate any page on the Web,” Capital reports. “Currently in beta testing, the new functionality lets users add genius.com/ to the beginning of any URL to access a version of the page on Genius.” The pages are then fully “annotatable.”
Threatening the stability of the Web and every business that depends on it, hacking for hire is going mainstream. “The business of hacking is no longer just the domain of intelligence agencies, international criminal gangs, shadowy political operatives and disgruntled ‘hacktivists’ taking aim at big targets,” The New York Times reports. Case in point: Hacker’s List, a new site that matches hackers with potential patrons.
Ann Curry is leaving her current gig at NBC to set up an NBCUniversal-backed media production company. The new entity will “provide news reports and documentaries to numerous outlets, including NBC,” Page Six reports. “The deal will allow her to produce content for NBC News and other platforms and networks.” Little else is presently known about the start-up, but it’s likely to be platform-agnostic.
President Obama on Wednesday is expected to unveil several measures designed to make high-speed Web connections more affordable and available to U.S. consumers. “The announcement will focus chiefly on efforts by cities to build their own alternatives to major Internet providers such as Comcast, Verizon or AT&T,” Washington Post reports.
In response to an ever-shifting media landscape, Gawker is once-again restructuring its flagship property. “Instead of publishing the majority of our stories directly to the front page, we’ll be publishing them on to a set of subject-focused sub-blogs … a.k.a. ‘verticals,’” Gawker editor Max Read writes in a blog post. “The front page will update less frequently than it did before, and it will feel a bit more like the front page of a newspaper.” As Nieman Lab notes: “This feels of a piece with [Gawker CEO] Nick Denton’s recent declaration that the Battle for Traffic Mountain has been lost, ...
When The New York Times gets its “audience development department” up and running, it will notice readers’ appetite for multimedia, contributed content and quizzes. As Poynter reports, that was the sort of fare that readers ate up last year. “Many of the most popular items from 2014 [weren’t] conventional news stories at all -- they [were] contributed content (Dylan Farrow’s open letter about Woody Allen), quizzes (2013′s “How Y’all, Youse and You Guys Talk was on the list for two years straight), and question-and-answer sessions.”
Leon Wieseltier has good reason to be upset with the current state of media. Along with the entitled hubris of Chris Hughes, it is largely to blame for his divorce from The New Republic after more than three decades of service. With his wounds still raw, the famed literary critic tears into the business leaders (“the greatest thugs in the history of the culture industry”), institutions (“silent sweatshops in which words cannot wait for thoughts”), and “the idolatry of data,” which together are reshaping the business of “content.”
Google is reportedly readying a U.S. auto insurance shopping Web site, and, as The New York Times reports, it’s not secret among the insurance industry. “Some recent moves by the Internet giant suggest the debut could be imminent,” according to NYT. “Google recently formed a partnership with the insurance comparison shopping site CompareNow.com, which operates like the Kayak travel site only for auto insurance,” it reports, citing a source.