Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Video: The Pulse Boys-to-Men Talk About Huge Growth of Visual News-Reading App

Today, BoomTown braved the floods and skippered All Things Digital‘s S.S. Minnow through a Noah-like rainstorm in Silicon Valley to visit the HQ of Pulse.

Last summer, you might recall, co-founders Akshay Kothari and Ankit Gupta of the nifty visual news-reading app got publicly picked out by Apple’s Steve Jobs in a speech about third-party innovations on the iPad.

It was a high point for the pair of Stanford University students and newbie entrepreneurs–except that the very same day, the New York Times slapped them with a cease and desist for misusing its RSS feed.

Dramatic, for sure, but they have made nice with the Times since then and have also raised more than $1 million in funding from a range of notable venture players.

Compared to a similar start-up–the social news-reading app Flipboard–that’s a very small budget for Pulse, which was making a profit on a paid app but, since it went free in November, it’s not making a profit now.

The move–while it will require a new business plan at some point–allowed Pulse usage to explode, hitting three million users today from 250,000 paid users only four months ago.

A lot of that growth has been on Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android smartphones, rather than on the iPad tablet, where Pulse began.

And, although the Android mobile operating system was the last platform to be introduced, it is the fastest growing one, with over one million users on it, Pulse said.

Pulse launched a 2.0 update for the iPhone and Android today, with “enhanced performance, new content sources and improved sharing with social feeds and news discovery features.”

That means the app is speedier, has more news offerings in more categories and a bigger dollop of social content and sharing tools with Facebook, Twitter and other social networking companies.

Pulse now has eight employees squeezed into its small offices in downtown Palo Alto, CA–complete with the required start-up garage door.

Here’s a video interview I did with Kothari and Gupta this afternoon, just as the sun came out, along with one I did with them in cloudier times last June during the Times’ dopey assault:

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik