Kara Swisher

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Meet Flipboard: Mike McCue Talks About Stealth "Social Magazine" Start-Up That Just Nabbed $10.5 Million in Funding

Today, BoomTown gassed up the MINI and headed down to see one of the more innovative new start-ups I have encountered of late.

That would be a new social magazine concept called Flipboard, which is attempting to make the social networking universe more accessible, consumable and, perhaps most importantly, visually arresting via a rich app on the Apple (AAPL) iPad.

Essentially, Flipboard pulls information from sites such as Twitter and Facebook data streams and then reassembles it in an easy-to-navigate, personalized format in a mobile tablet touchscreen environment.

In this social magazine, there are pull quotes, photos, videos, status updates and even the first paragraphs of content linked out to. There is also the ability to comment and share, as if one were on Twitter or Facebook.

Co-founded by longtime Silicon Valley entrepreneur Mike McCue and former Apple iPhone engineer Evan Doll in January, Flipboard decloaked itself tonight, announcing both a $10.5 million funding from top Silicon Valley power players and also the acquisition of Ellerdale, a relevancy search engine for the real-time Web.

The funders include Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Index Ventures and a spate of high-profile investors, such as Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, Facebook co-founder Dustin Moscovitz, angel investor Ron Conway, actor Ashton Kutcher and the investment company of former News Corp. (NWS) exec Peter Chernin.

Flipboard currently has about 20 employees at its downtown Palo Alto, Calif., HQ.

“Flipboard is a social magazine filled with all the the things your friends are sharing,” said McCue, who co-founded Tellme, the speech recognition service acquired by Microsoft (MSFT). “We’re trying to bring the timeless principles of print to social media.”

(You can read The Mossberg Solution’s Katherine Boehret’s review of Flipboard here.)

McCue left Tellme a year ago and was casting about for a new start-up when he settled on creating a new way to digest and present the noisy flood of information being spewed 24/7 by social networks.

Kleiner Perkins partner John Doerr, who backed Tellme, said he was immediately intrigued by the idea.

“It is at once intimate and alive and beautiful,” he said in an interview with me earlier today. “This is the next wave of social media and redefines what magazine is…and I think it will be one of the defining apps on the iPad.”

Right now, the Flipboard app is free and the business plan is advertising and some possible subscription scenarios.

Ellen Pao, also of Kleiner and a member of Flipboard’s board, said she hoped publishers, whose Web sites are reconfigured from tweets and other social links by the app, will welcome the new distribution format.

“Traditional publishing is facing a crossroads and this imagines it from the ground up,” she said. “I hope it paves the way.”

We’ll see about old media reactions, which has been decidedly mixed to aggregation apps like this.

The New York Times (NYT), for example, attacked rather than embraced another terrific news reading iPad app called Pulse, accusing it of misusing its content.

It was a stupid move against inexorable concepts such as Pulse and Flipboard, which are beginning to make sense of the changing digital information landscape.

Here’s the video interview with McCue, followed by the official press releases about Flipboard:

FLIPBOARD LAUNCHES WORLD’S FIRST SOCIAL MAGAZINE

INSPIRED BY THE BEAUTY OF PRINT AND DESIGNED FOR iPAD, FLIPBOARD TRANSFORMS THE SOCIAL MEDIA EXPERIENCE

Raises $10.5MM From Legendary Investors KPCB and Index Ventures and Media Innovators Including Jack Dorsey, Dustin Moskovitz, Ashton Kutcher and The Chernin Group

Acquires Ellerdale, Names Arthur van Hoff CTO

FORTUNE BRAINSTORM TECH–ASPEN, COLORADO – JULY 21, 2010–Founded by Mike McCue, former CEO of Tellme, and Evan Doll, former senior iPhone engineer at Apple®, Flipboard™ began a quest today to transform how people discover and share content by combining the beauty and ease of print with the power of social media. Flipboard also announced the immediate availability of it’s Flipboard App for iPad™, a social magazine that brings to life the stories, photos, news and updates being shared across Twitter and Facebook. Flipboard’s first public demo will happen at the FORTUNE Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen, Colorado at 4:40pm MDT tomorrow.

“With over 1 billion posts shared every day, social networks are quickly becoming the primary way people discover and share content on the Web. The result is a huge influx of incoming messages and links people must sort through across multiple web sites just to stay up to date,” said Mike McCue, Flipboard’s CEO. “We believe the timeless principles of print can make social media less noisy, more visually compelling and ultimately more mainstream.”

Designed from the ground up for iPad, Flipboard creates a magazine out of a user’s social content. Simply launch Flipboard and “flip” open the cover to get started. From the Table of Contents readers can view their sections and personalize the magazine.

The Facebook and Twitter sections let readers quickly flip through the latest stories, photos and updates from friends and trusted sources. Because Flipboard renders links and images right in the magazine, readers no longer have to scan long lists of posts and click on link after link – instead they instantly see all the stories, comments and images, making it faster and more entertaining to discover, view and share social content.

Flipboard also lets readers easily create sections around topics or people they care about. Choose from Flipboard’s suggested sections on topics such as sports, news, tech and style, with content hand-curated from popular and interesting Twitter feeds. Or, create an entirely new section by searching by topic, person or Twitter lists to make Flipboard even more personal.

The Flipboard App is available for free at www.flipboard.com or from the App Store on iPad or at www.itunes.com/appstore/.

ACQUISITION OF ELLERDALE
As part of it’s quest to fundamentally improve the social media experience, Flipboard also announced the acquisition of Ellerdale (see press release: “Flipboard Acquires Ellerdale”). Ellerdale’s advanced semantic analysis of large, real-time data streams will enable Flipboard to extract, categorize and feature highly relevant and hot trending content from across a variety of social networks. Flipboard will also retain the world-class engineering team at Ellerdale, including Arthur van Hoff, a leading Silicon Valley technologist who played a major role in the creation of Java. Arthur will become Flipboard’s Chief Technology Officer and spearhead the company’s technology strategy.

INVESTORS
Flipboard is backed by legendary investors Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Index Ventures. Other key investors also include Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz, The Chernin Group founded by Peter Chernin, Ron Conway, Alfred Lin, Peter Currie, Quincy Smith, and Ashton Kutcher. The company has raised $10.5 million in a Series A venture capital round.

FLIPBOARD ACQUIRES ELLERDALE TO BOOST CONTENT RELEVANCY IN NEW SOCIAL MAGAZINE

Arthur van Hoff Joins Flipboard as Chief Technology Officer

PALO ALTO, Calif.–July 21, 2010–Flipboard today announced it has acquired Ellerdale, the real-time Web intelligence company. The acquisition concurs with the launch of Flipboard, a social magazine designed for Apple’s iPad, which provides a faster and more engaging way to discover, view, and share what matters on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.

Ellerdale, founded in 2008, has developed a Web Intelligence technology that applies semantic analysis to large, real-time data streams to extract relevant and valuable information. To date, Ellerdale has indexed over 6 billion messages from around the social Web and currently processes nearly 70 million messages per day. This technology and data set will be become the relevancy engine for the next release of Flipboard, enhancing the reader’s experience by always surfacing the most important and personally interesting information from Facebook, Twitter and other social networks.

Designed from the ground up for the iPad, Flipboard creates a magazine out of a user’s social content. With Ellerdale’s technology, future versions of Flipboard will be able to extract, categorize and feature highly relevant and hot trending content from across a variety of social networks.

“Ellerdale has developed an impressive solution for understanding the ever-increasing stream of social data coming at us every day,” said Mike McCue, CEO and co-founder of Flipboard. “This technology will add deep relevancy for our readers, enabling us to present social content in a way that is not only more beautiful, but also more meaningful. It’s a great combination.”

Arthur van Hoff, co-founder of Ellerdale, is joining Flipboard as the company’s new chief technology officer. Van Hoff, who played a major role in the development of the Java programming language at Sun Microsystems, and was founder of six high-tech companies, including Marimba, Strangeberry and Zing, will spearhead Flipboard’s technology strategy.

“Combining the two companies creates a situation in which one plus one equals three, bringing together Flipboard’s innovative front-end with Ellerdale’s powerful real-time relevancy engine on the back-end,” said Arthur van Hoff, co-founder of Ellerdale and Flipboard’s new chief technology officer. “Our technology will play a key role in providing readers with the content that matters most to them.”

Mike McCue and Evan Doll founded Flipboard earlier this year and received $10.5M in funding from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Index Ventures. The founding team members come from Apple, Netflix, Tellme/Microsoft, Aardvark and Adobe. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.


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