- Circa was cold and rational at a time when journalism was becoming more entertaining and emotional. A just-the-facts-ma’am approach to the news can be valuable in describing major breaking-news events. But those events are rare in nature, and the news organizations that are growing the fastest — BuzzFeed, Vice — excel at making their audience feel something every day. Circa took pride in being flavorless, and it showed in the product.
- Circa was a generalist in a news market that favors expertise. One reason general-interest newspapers have suffered is because for most major subjects, there are a variety of online publications covering it more thoroughly and with greater authority. (When the Supreme Court next hands down a big decision, will you visit your local newspaper's website to read the AP story, or will you visit SCOTUSBlog?) Like newspapers, Circa shunned analysis — forcing its users to seek it elsewhere when they found a story intriguing. And so an app designed to save people time actually created more work for them.
I personally don’t agree with the first point, I prefer news reports to be impartial and that usually comes with detachment and ‘coldness’. But the truth is, in today’s world, entertainment sells. And the major problem with Circa – as with most apps and startups today – is that it had no business model, no source of revenues. I’ve worried about that ever since the app launched, back in 2012, when the CEO explained its purpose as a way for people to
educate themselves for 5 minutes a day: you can’t realistically build an engaging service and loyalty from this kind of casual interactions. And without loyal users monetization will be next to impossible.
When will media startups realize that the solution isn't 'VC at scale', but actual earned money from the start? You can't scale abundance.— Thomas Baekdal (@baekdal) June 24, 2015