It’s 2014. Do we need another service that summarizes news other people have written?
Yes, says Jason Calacanis. And because Jason Calacanis is a very persuasive pitchman — or, at the very least, a very entertaining pitchman — I’ll let him make his case himself, in a video interview we filmed last week.
But first, a quick bit of background. In the spirit of Calacanis’s Inside, a mobile app/site which summarizes news stories in 300 characters or less, I’ll try to be brief:
- Calacanis became famous for starting Silicon Alley Reporter, which chronicled the Web 1.0 scene in New York, and Weblogs, the blog network he sold to AOL.
- Calacanis parlayed that success into Mahalo, which was initially supposed to be a human-powered search engine, and then went through multiple pivots. In its last incarnation, it was a creator of “how to” videos for YouTube.
- Calacanis has now “sunset” Mahalo and says he is using the remaining money investors gave him for that company to fund Inside. The URL and brand used to belong to a Web 1.0 meta-media service that failed, creating a diaspora of awesome reporters and editors, including our own excellent Ken Li.
- Calacanis is launching Inside with mobile apps for iOS and BlackBerry. Android users will have to wait a bit, and in the meantime they can use a mobile Web version. Calacanis says his well-documented dissatisfaction with Google has nothing to do with the delay.
- Calacanis is positioning this company as novel. But it has lots of competition, since news summaries and aggregation are a well-established business on the Web — and indeed, are a very old idea in mass media, period. He argues that it’s the first mobile-first, human-powered, aggregation-only news summary service, which might be true. But I’m not sure if potential users will make that distinction.
- It really is fun to watch Calacanis talk. Here’s the chat we had last week in his Culver City, Calif., offices.