clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Ripple wants to deliver local news — and it wants your help writing it

Viki founder Razmig Hovaghimian launches a "city-focused news platform."

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.

The internet is a good place to learn lots of things. What’s happening in your neighborhood is not one of them: Efforts to create sites that deliver local news have largely fallen flat, and have for a very long time (see: Patch).

That doesn’t deter Razmig Hovaghimian. He’s building a local news service, and he thinks you and your neighbors will help him out.

Hovaghimian's, which launches out of beta today, describes itself as a “city-focused news platform powered by local journalists and storytellers.”

In English: It’s a site and mobile app dedicated to big cities including San Francisco, New York, London and Bangkok, featuring a location-sensitive newsfeed stocked with stories that come from other local news sites — or from a volunteer group of contributors who want to write about their own neighborhood.

“People want their voices heard,” Hovaghimian said. “They want to be representing their neighborhood.”


Hovaghimian’s last gig was building Viki, a sort of international version of Hulu. He sold Viki to Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten for $200 million in 2013 and then stayed on at Rakuten for another year.

Viki relied on free labor — a volunteer army of translators who helped caption their favorite shows in 100 different languages. Hovaghimian figures the same ethos will compel people to write about what’s happening down the street. Eventually, he says, he’ll be able to share revenue, likely from ads, with his top producers.

“There’s so much great content out there,” he said. “Everyone has a story.”

But relying on free local content — even in neighborhoods soaked with wired residents who have the time and inclination to type up things happening in their vicinity — generally means you’re only going to get a certain kind of local content.

Hovaghimian is augmenting his feeds with news made by other local news orgs, but my hunch is that he’s going to have a hard time finding enough compelling stuff to draw readers on a consistent basis.

He will have some time to figure that out, though, courtesy of $4 million in funding. Investors include Rakuten, Greylock Partners, Graph Ventures, Social Capital, Charles River Ventures and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

This article originally appeared on