BuzzFeed is a fast-growing website that is famous, in part, for its willingness to publish lots of pictures and videos of animals.
So what would happen if you ran a website that stripped everything else out, and only posted stuff about animals?
You can see for yourself: It’s called The Dodo, and it’s backed by many of the same people who brought you BuzzFeed.
BuzzFeed chairman Ken Lerer announced that he was launching the site last summer, and it’s up right now. A quick scan of the front page gives you an idea of what they’re up to: Lots of clicky-clicky cute stories about cats, dogs and Justin Bieber’s monkey — but weightier stuff too, like a piece on “Blackfish,” the well-regarded documentary about Sea World’s treatment of its animals. It’s one of several Sea World-related pieces on the site.
“Sure, there will be cute videos on The Dodo,” writes Kerry Laureman, the former editor of Salon.com, who co-founded the site with Izzie Lerer, Ken Lerer’s daughter. But there will be much more, he insists: “We’ll celebrate animals, and not just laugh at them. We plan to explore our fierce and fraught bond with animals broadly and enthusiastically, from animal testing to the ethical eating movement.”
You can read even more about the philosophy behind the site over at the New York Times, where columnist Frank Bruni has put up a post timed to the launch. (In an earlier life, Lerer was a high-powered PR guy, and he still has the touch.)
As far as the business side, it’s worth noting that most of the people who have put roughly $2 million into the site are people who have invested in either BuzzFeed or the Huffington Post, Lerer’s last big Web publishing success: Lerer Ventures, Greycroft Partners, RRE Ventures, Softbank Capital, Fred Wilpon’s Sterling Equities and Oak Investment’s Fred Harman.
Also worth noting: TheDodo.com is the first full-fledged editorial site powered by Rebel Mouse, the “social publishing” startup backed by … Ken Lerer and many of the people you’ve read about in this story. The idea is that readers can use Rebel Mouse’s tools to import animal-related stories, pictures, etc., on the site.