CNN Snaps Up Content Recommendation Start-up Canopy – WWD


The spread of the coronavirus has forced many companies to halt M&A activities. Not CNN.

The news network, owned by AT&T Inc.’s Warner Media, just announced it has purchased content recommendation start-up Canopy for an undisclosed sum.

The idea behind the acquisition is that it will aid the development of NewsCo — CNN’s forthcoming news and information platform offering both CNN and third-party content that is widely viewed as an attempt to compete with Apple, Facebook and Google’s news aggregation services.

“This acquisition enables us to light up in a single transaction a proven, best-in-class team whose deep knowledge and skill sets would’ve taken many months or even years to assemble,” explained Andrew Morse, executive vice president and chief digital officer at CNN. “Canopy’s culture of fast-cycle, iterative software and product development will enable us to more rapidly realize our ambitions and deliver against our goals.”

Launched in 2018 by ceo Brian Whitman, Canopy, whose 15-strong team is based in New York and Boston, uses a mix of human curation, on-device machine learning and differential privacy to help users find content suited to their preferences while protecting personal data. All 15 Canopy staffers, many of whom have backgrounds at all the major tech firms, will join CNN.

“There has never been a more crucial time to help people discover trusted sources around topics and issues that matter most to them,” said Whitman, who previously worked as Spotify’s principal scientist. “We’re incredibly excited to join the team at CNN to build some amazing products for their millions of global users.”

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CNN is among an increasing number of media companies looking at news aggregation services. Its efforts follow Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., which recently launched Knewz, offering news from more than 400 publishers.

It is not know when NewsCo, whose name could change, will launch.

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