Five news media startups you should know

Media innovation moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it. So we’ve gathered 5 interesting news media startups that you should know about. Think we missed something important? Let us know!


Syllabs provides automated solutions for text creation and content optimisation. Their writing engine can produce thousands of texts an hour, in several different languages. Publishers such as Le Monde, Les Echos, and AFP are already using Syllabs to produce stories. Earlier this year they raised 2 million euros in order to further expand the reach of their robot journalist. Currently available for French, English, Spanish, and German, the new funding will allow them to expand the languages content can be created in.

Syllabs believes in using AI to complement human work, but not replace it. To learn more about what Syllabs is working on, make sure to join us at our 2nd Digital Growth Summit in Rennes, France on November 21. Syllabs CEO Claude de Loupy will be part of the AI roundtable, discussing how AI will impact the future of news media.


We learned of Newsadoo at the INMA Lowlands Study Tour this week (where Twipe also presented!). Newsdadoo is working to build a “collaborative ecosystem for the European media that can join forces to provide powerful and well-functioning digital products.” In essence, they’re creating personal daily digital newspapers for readers. While it isn’t a new concept, previous versions of digital kiosks were not always publisher friendly. Instead, Newsadoo is working to build partnerships with publishers, giving them joint control of the eco-system and creating shared value for publishers.

The Playwall

Especially relevant since May 25th and renewed concerns on data privacy, The Playwall gives users a new way to pay for digital content: with their opinions and personal data. What makes it different from the traditional advertising business model however is that users are in complete control of which data they share. Readers can chose to answer a set of five simple questions, which usually takes between 15-20 seconds, they then have free access to the article. In other words, they’ve paid for the content with their information.

In an interview with the founders last year, we discussed with them how the idea for The Playwall was developed and what they learned from surveying 40,000 online readers about their willingness to pay for digital content. You can read the full interview in the 4th edition of our Trends in Digital Publishing magazine.


We’ve heard the complaint before, newspapers need to improve their payment methods—they need the one touch payment of Amazon. To help in this endeavour, Square co-founder Jim McKelvey is launching Invisibly, which aims to frictionlessly nudge readers through the digital reader revenue funnel. Through a digital wallet of sorts, readers are given credits for every ad they interact with, which are then subtracted when they consume content. Once the balance runs out, the publisher can opt to ask for payment for the single article or for access over a certain time period, or prompt the reader to view another ad. Both readers and advertisers can benefit from the improved experience, with readers facing less intrusive ads and advertisers having a better chance of converting readers that have chosen to see the ad. Currently Invisibly is working to partner with publishers before a planned launch later this year.

United Robots

United Robots also uses Natural Language Generation (NGL) to automatically produce content from large data sets. Currently available in both Swedish and English, large Swedish publishers such as MittMedia and Aftonbladet have already adopted United Robots technology in order to expand their coverage. MittMedia is using the technology for their “Homeowners Bot“, which informs readers of who bought the homes in their neighborhoods. In the first four months, this bot became the most productive “journalist”, producing more than 10,000 articles. It’s also helped to convert hundreds of users into digital subscribers—as its stories are number one in terms of behind-paywall pageviews.

CEO Sören Karlsson will also be joining the AI roundtable at the Digital Growth Summit, as well as Robin Govik, Chief Digital Officer at Mittmedia.

This article was written by Mary-Katharine Phillips, Media Innovation Analyst at Twipe from 2017 – 2021.


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