ElectNext pivots: politics startup launches sponsored comments on

ElectNext wasn't making money, so the seven-person startup went back to the drawing board and has landed on sponsored 'Featured Perspectives' for media comments.

ElectNext wasn’t making money.

Last spring, the startup launched “political baseball cards,”¬†information cards about politicians that publishers could embed on their sites to provide context to an article. Publishers liked the content, founder Keya Dannenbaum said, but it wasn’t making them any money.

So ElectNext went back to the drawing board.

The seven-person team, split up between New York City, Philadelphia and San Francisco, came up with “Featured Perspectives,” or sponsored comments affixed to the bottom of an article. The feature, still in beta mode, went live on nearly one month ago, Dannenbaum said. It hopes to roll out to a new publisher in a different state each month.

So far, Featured Perspectives has skewed heavily toward education stories, with participation from organizations like Pennsylvania Campaign for Achievement Now, or PennCAN, and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, the local teachers union. Check out some of the comments here, here and here.

The new product does not diverge from ElectNext’s original goal of building an “informed, engaged public,” Dannenbaum said. Featured Perspectives allows readers to see the main voices on an issue, she said.

Might the product favor the voices that can afford to pay for a comment?

This is something ElectNext is working on, Dannenbaum said. The startup is developing a pricing model that it hopes will be low enough to not act as a barrier to entry. Currently, the product costs $500 per comment, with 40 percent going to the publisher.


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