Remember Circa, the breathlessly hyped news app that attempted to summarize stories by breaking them down into small, flavorless nuggets of content? The app abruptly stopped publishing in June after finally depleting $5.27 million in venture capital, but today the Wall Street Journal reported that it has finally found a benefactor: the conservative-leaning television news conglomerate Sinclair Broadcast Group, whose venture capital division recently acquired all of Circa’s assets for just $800,000.*
Sinclair is most well-known for exploiting its quasi-monopoly of local television affiliates across the United States to produce and disseminate political attack ads targeting Democrats. But the company’s plans for Circa, as described by the VP and COO of Sinclair’s digital division, Rob Weisbord, seem to be a bit more subtle:
Mr. Weisbord said the left-leaning nature of the most popular news sites for young people left an opening in the market. “The key is to be independent and user-generated, because when you look at the Vices and Voxes of the world, they tend to be far-left,” he said. “Our goal is to let the content drive it. It will never be far right like where Breitbart is, because our research shows there is no way to gain a big audience if we do that. But there’s a big need in the center.”
It’s unclear what being “independent” and “user-generated” has to do with counteracting other outlets’ super-liberal ideologies. Then again, if you’re inclined to believe an outlet like Vox—Vox!—is “far-left,” you’re probably not seeking to appeal to young progressive Americans anyway. Weisbord doesn’t see that as an impediment to Circa’s future, however:
“We expect it to be as significant as Vice and Vox and Buzzfeed,” he said.
Best of luck.
* Update, 4:40 p.m.:
Jason Smith, the director of Sinclair Digital Ventures, emailed Gawker after this post went up to clarify that Sinclair Digital Ventures—not Sinclair Broadcasting Group itself—acquired Circa’s assets. (That said, Sinclair Digital Ventures is a division of, and funded exclusively by, Sinclair Broadcasting Group.) We have updated the post accordingly.