If the mere mention of viral content on the web has conditioned you to roll your eyes, wondering what strange dumb video you’ll have to suffer through next, prepare yourself for an ecstatic revelation. Prepare to shift your surprise, horror, and delight to media that matters. And join the 30 million monthly visitors that now find their way to Upworthy.
Like any media or curated media site, Upworthy.com aims to feature viral content. What distinguishes the startup is its mission to “elevate and draw attention to the issues that really matter – from gay marriage to body image to global poverty – through irresistible social media.” You can still find adorable kittens and the opportunity to laugh at ridiculous behavior, but this is where you’ll watch things such as a congresswoman delivering a smackdown on an IRS contractor scamming the system.
If you’re a fan of the Colbert Report and The Daily Show brands of humor, Upworthy will speak your language. Not that the site is all about laughs. There’s plenty to sadden or inspire as well. Coverage of musician Zach Sobiech’s battle with cancer helped raise money for research charity while boosting the single “Clouds” to the top in iTunes.
Aspiring to be “the right media company for the moment,” Upworthy has drawn attention that rivals the traffic of other sites like Buzzfeed, which receives close to 50 million unique visitors per month. The combination of irreverence, great titles, a keen eye of content, and masterful social sharing has proven enormously successful.
We’re Not Worthy, We’re Not Worthy
Upworthy was co-founded by Eli Pariser and Peter Koechley. Pariser, an internet activist, served as the Executive Director at moveon.org for four years and remains active as the Board President. Pariser also co-founded Avaaz.org. Koechley was a managing editor at The Onion beforehand. Stories like “Hey, Look! It’s The Same People Who Are Blocking The Same Rights Again And AGAIN” echo the wit of the comedic news source.
Near the end of 2012, Upworthy nabbed $4 million from New Enterprise Associates and angel investors to continue building. A little over a year old, the site has recently begun experimenting with sponsored posts to bring in revenue. Upworthy is currently running the series “Workonomics” in conjunction with the AFL-CIO.
If you’re comfortable with certain people hacking the government, then you’ll definitely want to monitor what this startup can do.