Oprah and Eric Schmidt Back Cory Booker’s New Startup #waywire, a Media Site for Millenials

July 2nd, 2012

Oprah and Eric Schmidt Back Cory Booker’s New

Startup #waywire, a Media Site for Millenials

Current TV for the Internet era?

By Nitasha Tiku 9:00am

While you were clinging to your A/C unit over the weekend, Newark mayor and Twitter addict Cory Booker was ushering his new startup out of stealth mode. The company, called #waywire, is a media platform that combines original and syndicated videos with relevant user-generated content from young adults about what’s important to them and their perspective on issues in the news.

Wait, didn’t Al Gore have the same idea in 2005?

“Traditional news sources aren’t in any way talking to millennials,” Mr. Booker tells TechCrunch. Perhaps the site can start with whether any young adult actually wants to be labeled a “millenial”?

Mr. Booker’s cofounder in the startup is Nathan Richardson, #waywire’s CEO. (He also goes by Nate.) Mr. Richardson was most recently the president of Gilt City. His departure for the startup world was announced on the heels of significant layoffs at Gilt Groupe in January. Sarah Ross, TechCrunch’s former chief marketing officer, is also a cofounder.

The startup has already raised a $1.75 million seed round from Oprah Winfrey, Eric Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors, Lady Gaga’s manager Troy Carter, First Round Capital, and LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner.

Mr. Richardson tells TechCrunch that #waywire plans on launching with 10,000 minutes of original content hosted by “all-millenial newscasters,” along with clips from more established news outlets. Video responses, like, say, a reaction to the Supreme Court’s healthcare decision, from the #waywire community and your social network will appear alongside the professional content.

Booker believes “There are practical solution to [creating] more jobs, lower crime, better education. If more people could find their voice and be part of the national dialogue, we could solve these problems.”

Any discussion or rebuttal you record can easily be shared via social networks. In fact, #waywire plans on pulling in data from Facebook and Twitter to build a personalized newswire of what’s relevant to each user. The startup also plans on offering a badge and reward system that lets trusted users determine what content to highlight on the platform.

In a promotional video shot in Washington Square Park (below), fresh-faced,  politically-engaged young men and women wag their fingers at the divisive soundbite- and celebrity-obsessed state of news today, eager to offer a more circumspect take on the issues. Aaron Sorkin would be so proud!

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