Letter from Zite CEO, Mark Johnson

I am excited to announce that Zite has been acquired by CNN. We at Zite are thrilled about combining forces with CNN to create the world’s greatest news discovery platform. We recognize that, for a startup, an acquisition is both a moment of exciting validation and a time when lots of questions arise. In this letter I’ll give my own unvarnished perspective about why I’m excited about this milestone and why you should be too.

When Zite launched earlier this year, we were overwhelmed by the response. With over 100,000 downloads in the first week, incredible app usage and praise from users, it was clear Zite solved a basic problem: cutting through the clutter and personalizing information to users. When I became CEO of Zite, I was faced with a difficult choice: take venture capital and race to build Zite into a viable business or join forces with a large company and work with a larger pool of resources. Despite many attractive paths in both directions, Zite chose to be acquired by CNN. We found a partner who shares our vision and our passion for building an incredible discovery platform.

Why CNN? First of all, CNN has a history of innovation in the marketplace. CNN was the first organization to launch a 24-hour all-news network – embracing people’s love of news on their terms. Secondly, a modern news organization like CNN isn’t just about reporting. CNN.com is one of the largest web sites in the world and the CNN mobile applications boast well over 12 million downloads. CNN knows that they are competing not only in high-quality reporting, but in delivering you the best news possible. Finally, our interactions with CNN leadership, including KC Estenson, have made it clear that they are visionaries who are voraciously pursuing next-generation technologies to give CNN.com an edge over its competition.

Zite wants to assure our users that what you love most about Zite will continue to get better. I will continue to operate as the CEO of Zite and will report directly to KC. We will not promote CNN, Turner or Time Warner content in any special way: our agnostic personalization algorithms will be the sole determiner of what you see on Zite. Most importantly, Zite will now have the capital to grow. That means better recommendations, new innovations in our iPad interface and Zite on additional platforms.

Acquisitions are exciting. I understand for some, they can also be scary. I’ve had all of my questions answered and I encourage you to send me a reply on Twitter to @philosophygeek and I’ll do my best to personalize a reply in 140 characters or less.

-Mark Johnson, CEO of Zite

13 comments

  1. Great news. Hope the app will introduce more innovative and cool features that will help us to consume and share more info quickly and easily

  2. Mark, thanks for sharing your perspective. However, I disagree and think something will have to change. If you won't be promoting CNN related content, if the app remains free, and if there is no advertising in the app (all of which are what makes Zite awesome), then what does CNN get out of this acquisition?It is a GREAT thing for Zite if your vision is true. However, I don't think CNN is in the business of spending money for nothing.Stuart@stuartgreenwell

  3. I am certain that CNN will ruin your great app. I also believe that you have been undervalued. $20-25 mil these days is nothing esp for such an app on iPad platform. In any case, it is your product and your decision. Time will settle the rest.

  4. Congrats, I think joining forces with CNN is a great move!

  5. Congratulations Mark, this is excellent news!Brian BernsteinDirector, Wealth ManagementSenior Wealth AdvisorScotiaMcleod

  6. Good luck guys… Being a part of CNN will NOT be easy, but if you continue to be as good as what you are now, despite CNN, you'll do fine…Keep Rockin…..

  7. Congrats to you, Ali and the team! Love the app and can't wait to see what comes next.

  8. Congratulations Mark, in 1 step the second screen enabler and the content aggregation presentation layer of CNN, will open up a new world and not only for CNN. Good luck !

  9. Now an iPhone app, please?

  10. Yes, the Pocket Zite (Z-lite, Zitey, MicroZite)!Instead of an iPhone app graduating to the iPad, you can show us what it looks like when a beautiful iPad-first app is beveled down to iPhone portability.

  11. Gyi

    I was very pleased to hear about this. I wish a great future for Zite. It's really an awesome idea.

  12. What is the timetable for an iPhone version app? And an android app? And how about windows? I don't see why this is only limited to the ipad. I would love to have my "zite" synchronized across many platforms

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