The Recount: Modernizing News Media Delivery
May 27, 2021 | Ashley Brindamour
Consumers across the globe spend 7.5 hours engaging with media every day, according to Statista. With an abundance of real-time media platforms in a crowded market filled with sometimes biased, tedious, and inaccurate reporting, it can often be challenging to find credible sources that deliver compelling content.
Alumni Ventures’ portfolio company The Recount is improving the traditional media business model by delivering news focused on “corridors of power” in technology, business, culture, and politics. While consumers still value content about world-shaping events, they now crave more easily digestible video content with less bias. Led by media veterans John Heilemann (NBC News, MSNBC) and John Battelle (Wired, The Industry Standard), The Recount is taking advantage of these demands by curating news on moments that illuminate truth, provide shared context, and move the conversation forward.
Goodbye Information Overload
While timely news has its benefits, it also comes with the potential of bias, inaccurately researched reporting, and information overload. Nobel Prize-winning economist and psychologist Herbert A Simon concedes that the need for attention brought on by the social media environment has resulted in the loss of high-quality information. So while there is no shortage of news in today’s society, much is loaded with inaccuracy.
The Recount’s platform focuses on reinventing this model by delivering the day’s most important information in a direct, honest, and impactful way. This includes a daily newsletter, podcasts (~20 minutes), and videos (<5 minutes) that succinctly break down the most important stories of the day.
The company is aiming to become the next-generation media supplier of high-quality news content for consumers who want to cut through the saturated media landscape. The Recount continues to grow its audience base while — according to Deadline — all three major cable news networks continue to see primetime viewership declines.
What We Liked About the Deal
Impressive Traction: In 2020, The Recount generated more than one billion impressions from its content while also driving almost 2 million downloads of its podcasts. This year has been even more impressive, with one billion impressions in the first quarter alone.
The company performs well on Twitter with better engagement metrics than Axios and Buzzfeed and has just launched its streaming video channel in beta on YouTube. The Recount also has plans to distribute through Roku, FireTV, PlutoTV, TubiTV, Samsung TV Plus, and Vizio SmartCast.
Attractive Advertising Platform: Recount’s ability to connect through short-form videos, podcasts, and unique content makes it an attractive opportunity for advertisers. According to management, Recount’s view rate of 57% during a pilot launch with a Fortune 500 ad partner on Twitter exceeded the industry benchmark of 35%.
Veteran Team: The Recount was founded in 2018 by a team of veteran media leaders, John Heilemann and John Battelle, who have blended news expertise with other backgrounds to reinvent how journalism can be produced. They also bring experience from traditional media brands and companies like Disney, Nickelodeon, Turner, and Buzzfeed.
How We Are Involved
Purple Arch Ventures (Alumni Ventures’ fund for Northwestern alumni and friends of the community) and sibling fund Strawberry Creek Ventures (for UC Berkeley alumni and friends of the community) deployed capital in The Recount’s $18 million Series B led by Foundry Group. Other participating investors include Union Square Ventures, Burda Principal Investments, True Ventures, Correlation Ventures, and several individual investors.