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AI news platform raises Series A backed by Axel Springer, Lightspeed

Jun 11, 2024
Illustration of a newspaper box with a glowing digital screen with binary code.

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

Particle, an AI-powered news platform, raised $10.9 million as it continues to develop its core product.

Why it matters: The funding comes as publishers are experimenting with ways that AI can help consumers quickly consume and navigate news.

How it works: Particle, which was founded by ex-Twitter executives Sara Beykpour and Marcel Molina, uses AI to create bulleted summaries of news stories sourced from existing publishers.

  • "If three different outlets report on what seems to be the same story, we'll cluster it into a story and run it through our process," co-founder Sara Beykpour tells Axios.
  • The product is still in beta testing with a very small group of users, Beykpour says. There is no public launch date yet.
  • "As we expand our test line and start to learn about what's resonating with users, we will build the business model around that," she says.

Zoom in: Lightspeed Venture led the round, and German publisher Axel Springer participated.

  • Lightspeed's Michael Mignano will join Particle's board.
  • Prior investors Kindred Ventures, Adverb Ventures, Ev Williams, Scott Belsky and GC&H Investments participated in the round.
  • Earlier this year, Particle raised $4.4 million in seed funding.

The big picture: Newsrooms are fearful that using AI to summarize news articles could have an adverse effect on their business, since it could reduce traffic to publishers' websites (and thus reduce advertising dollars).

  • Particle signed its first content deal with Reuters, which will make the wire service one of its main sources, and Particle will subscribe to its newswire.
  • The goal, Beykpour says, is to find a way to compensate publishers.
  • "We're still building but we want to work with publishers to develop a model that's going to work," Beykpour says. "We don't think that can happen overnight. And we also don't want to build that in a silo. We want to build that in collaboration with publishers to make sure that it's a win-win."
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