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Inside's News Is Longer Than Twitter, Shorter Than Business Insider and Jason Calacanis Says You'll Love It

The guy who brought you Silicon Alley Reporter, Engadget (and Mahalo) has a new project.

Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

It’s 2014. Do we need another service that summarizes news other people have written?

Yes, says Jason Calacanis. And because Jason Calacanis is a very persuasive pitchman — or, at the very least, a very entertaining pitchman — I’ll let him make his case himself, in a video interview we filmed last week.

But first, a quick bit of background. In the spirit of Calacanis’s Inside, a mobile app/site which summarizes news stories in 300 characters or less, I’ll try to be brief:

  • Calacanis became famous for starting Silicon Alley Reporter, which chronicled the Web 1.0 scene in New York, and Weblogs, the blog network he sold to AOL.
  • Calacanis parlayed that success into Mahalo, which was initially supposed to be a human-powered search engine, and then went through multiple pivots. In its last incarnation, it was a creator of “how to” videos for YouTube.
  • Calacanis has now “sunset” Mahalo and says he is using the remaining money investors gave him for that company to fund Inside. The URL and brand used to belong to a Web 1.0 meta-media service that failed, creating a diaspora of awesome reporters and editors, including our own excellent Ken Li.
  • Calacanis is launching Inside with mobile apps for iOS and BlackBerry. Android users will have to wait a bit, and in the meantime they can use a mobile Web version. Calacanis says his well-documented dissatisfaction with Google has nothing to do with the delay.
  • Calacanis is positioning this company as novel. But it has lots of competition, since news summaries and aggregation are a well-established business on the Web — and indeed, are a very old idea in mass media, period. He argues that it’s the first mobile-first, human-powered, aggregation-only news summary service, which might be true. But I’m not sure if potential users will make that distinction.
  • It really is fun to watch Calacanis talk. Here’s the chat we had last week in his Culver City, Calif., offices.

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