Palo Alto, California–Flipboard attracted national attention across media publishing circles on Monday Sept. 23 after tech news site All Things Digital announced the mobile app raised $50 million in its most recent bout of fundraising. The interactive news reader has now reached an $800 million value and plans to branch out into the international and Windows 8 markets.
Flipboard is already on version 2.0 and has attracted the attention of bigname news magazines as well as producers of niche media who have started developing mobile magazines specifically for the Flipboard audience.
Flipboard: From Interactive Reading to International Publishing
Initially released in 2010, Flipboard is a social news aggregator with over 3.5 million magazine publications. It operates under a principle of user engagement and allows readers to interact not only with the content, but also directly with the sponsors. Corporations such as Delta and Cisco have produced brand-specific magazines for readers to “flip” through while browsing their favorite news sites. Other special interests are eager to participate in the trend: Random House Publishers is working on targeting its readership with magazines for popular authors George R.R. Martin and Margaret Atwood.
The Flipboard team intends to reach out into the global market with magazines tailored to (and published by) local creators in locations such as China, India, Japan, and the U.K. It is also seeking accessibility in the mobile realm with developments for the Windows 8 operating system and new touch screen oriented features. Although Flipboard does have a desktop interface, the majority of its revenue comes from mobile platforms.
“New Media Industry”
While many praise Flipboard’s interactive environment as novel and practical, some criticize the rise in social media publishers that profit off of ad revenue alone with no original content. ZDNet’s Tom Foremski considers the profit advantage Flipboard has over an industry such as the New York Times when publishers like Flipboard do not employ writers, photographers, or editors of their own. At nearly three years old, Flipboard’s $800 million value is already nearly half of the New York Times’ $1.75 billion.
Foremski calls Flipboard a part of a “new media industry” that operates solely off of content aggregation. Startup reporters at TechCrunch appear quite certain that this new industry provides unprecedented opportunities for small-scale publishers, such as enthusiast created travel magazines and pop culture media.