As an undergrad at Georgetown, Gillis Baxter found that his generation wasn’t all that plugged in with current events.
“All my friends at Georgetown were incredibly smart,” he said. “None of them were reading the news.”
They found the task “daunting — it’s so complicated, there’s so much to read,” he said.
So in December 2014, Baxter dropped out — midway through his junior year — to create a more efficient news-reading system for the smartphone-wielding college set.
He teamed up with his now-CTO Evan Bloomberg, a computer science graduate student at Georgetown who was also his roommate’s T.A.
They call their new model, Vizo, a Tinder for current events. “We read the news for you as a user and only present you with the most important and relevant information,” said Baxter.
Instead of hiring journalists, Vizo hires (as contractors) the modern-day version of scribes. They gather information from major international news outlets, like The New York Times or Al Jazeera, and winnow it down to 500-600 character blurbs, served thrice a day (twice a day on weekends).
This story might sound a little familiar to those who watched the rise and fall of Circa, another digestible news product that shuttered just last month.
But Vizo also aims to grow as a social network of sorts. Users caught up in a major news event can take a picture and write up “something that you could quickly type up on your phone in five, six minutes,” said Baxter. They can then share it with their Facebook friends, or all of Vizo.
Soon-to-be based out of New York, Vizo has raised over $1 million from a combination of family, friends and three Israeli investors.
Vizo is launching in the U.S. and Israel this week, both on Android and iOS.
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