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Former Tumblr President John Maloney Is Now Circa's New President

Two years ago he invested in the mobile news service. Now he's running its operations.

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.

What do you do after you help a young CEO build a giant digital property?

Take a couple years off, then try doing it again.

That’s what John Maloney is doing. The Web veteran, who spent four years running day-to-day operations at Tumblr for founder David Karp, has a new gig. He’ll be running day-to-day operations at Circa, the mobile news service, for founder Matt Galligan.

Maloney’s brief at his new job sounds similar to his last one: Figure out how to grow the company, raise money and eventually generate money as well, so the CEO can focus on product.

There are other links as well: Maloney was an early investor in Circa, after being introduced to the company by Karp, its first investor.

There are plenty of differences, too. Tumblr didn’t really have much competition when it started up, because no one thought that there was much need for an easy-to-use blog platform.

But lots of people are putting money into services that sound something like Circa, which has a staff of editors summarizing, fact-checking and explaining big news stories, in a format designed specifically for mobile devices.

The New York Times, for instance, has a new news app that’s supposed to deliver the day’s most essential stories. Yahoo has one, too. And earlier this year Jason Calacanis launched Inside, a mobile app dedicated to bite-sized news stories, curated by humans.

It’s reasonable to think that Circa is really competing with a much larger universe of news sites, since I’m not sure that consumers think of “mobile news app” as its own category.

If you think about it that way, you can add competition from just about everyone, including new “explainer” sites that just launched, like and The Upshot. It’s unclear how any of the new sites are doing, and the same goes for Circa, which has yet to release usage numbers.

Maloney will run a staff of 16 people, split up between San Francisco, New York and a few other cities. The company has raised $4 million since October 2012, so he’ll have to raise more, and start working on a revenue model, too. He says he has one in the works.

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