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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A new public benefit corporation backed by billionaires Reid Hoffman, George Soros, and others is launching Tuesday to fund new media companies and efforts that tackle disinformation.

Why it matters: Good Information Inc. aims to fund and scale businesses that cut through echo chambers with fact-based information. As part of its mission, it plans to invest in local news companies.

The group will be led by Tara McGowan, a former Democratic strategist who previously ran a progressive non-profit called ACRONYM.

  • ACRONYM invested in for-profit companies that built media and technology solutions for progressive causes. It ran one of the largest digital campaigns to defeat President Trump in the 2020 election, totaling $100 million.
  • One of the companies it invested in, called Shadow, made headlines last year for contributing to the delayed reporting of the Iowa caucus results.
  • Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn, backed ACRONYM.

Details: Good Information is launching with a multi-million seed investment led by Hoffman and joined by investors Ken and Jen Duda, Incite, and George Soros.

  • "We are disclosing our investors, because we believe — especially right now in this environment of mistrust — that transparency is really important," McGowan said.
  • ACRONYM faced a FEC complaint last year that alleged it wasn’t transparent enough about Courier’s backing. McGowan originally told Axios that the complaint had been dropped. The group that filed the complaint, Americans for Public Trust, told Axios that the complaint was still pending. McGowan subsequently told Axios that her lawyers are “confident” it will be dropped.
  • Good Information Inc. will invest in new businesses and solutions that tackle the disinformation crisis. That could mean funding new or existing companies that boost news from existing news outlets.

Although backed and launched by progressives, McGowan says the group could make investments in entities across the political spectrum so long as their editorial standards support fact-based information.

  • She points to The Bulwark, a center-right news site founded in opposition to Trumpism, as an example of the type of center-right news outlet it could fund.
  • "The information crisis we're in is so much bigger than politics," McGowan said.
  • McGowan will sit on the company's five-person board, which will be announced by the end of the year. It will include two investor-appointed members and three management-appointed members.

Good Information Inc. will acquire Courier Newsroom from ACRONYM for an undisclosed sum as part of the deal.

  • Courier Newsroom is a local news group with a progressive perspective. There are currently over 60 people that work across eight local newsrooms full-time.
  • McGowan says she was recused from Acronym's negotiations to sell Courier because she was still on the board of Acronym when the purchase was being negotiated. Deal terms aren't being disclosed.
  • Good Information Inc. will acquire ACRONYM's "FWIW" newsletter, which covers digital political ad spending.

The company's advisory committee consists of nearly two dozen political, media and tech experts, including former White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer, Civic Signal Founder Eli Pariser, Check My Ads co-founder Nandini Jammi, former Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times editor Mark Jacob, Accountable Tech co-founder Nicole Gill and others.

Between the lines: In February, Recode reported on leaked materials suggesting the group would include a non-profit arm. McGowan told Axios there's no plan to launch a non-profit.

  • The Recode article said McGowan was looking to raise $65 million for the effort. McGowan did not confirm that number to Axios.

The big picture: It's the latest example of investments by billionaires targeting disinformation.

What's next: McGowan says that the group's goal in the next year is to raise more awareness about immediate solutions to counter disinformation before it spreads.

Editor’s note: This article has been corrected to note that the FEC complaint is still pending. It originally said it had been dropped.

Go deeper

Former D.C. Guard alleges Army Generals lied about Jan. 6 response

Members of the National Guard and Capitol police keep a small group of pro-Trump demonstrators away from the Capitol following the insurrection on Jan. 6. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

A former D.C. National Guard official has alleged that top Army generals "lied" to Congress in their testimony on the U.S. Capitol riot, Politico first reported Monday.

The big picture: Col. Earl Matthews, who was serving on Jan. 6, alleges in a memo that the official version on the military response is "worthy of the best Stalinist or North Korea propagandist" and that the Pentagon inspector general's November report on it features "myriad inaccuracies, false or misleading statements, or examples of faulty analysis."

Toyota to build $1.3 billion U.S. battery plant in North Carolina

The all-electric Toyota bZ4X, the company's first battery-electric vehicle, at the Los Angeles Auto Show in Los Angeles, California on Nov. 17. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

Toyota announced Monday it's investing $1.3 billion to construct an electric vehicle battery "megasite" near Greensboro, North Carolina, set to open in 2025.

Why it matters: Toyota's Prius hybrid won environmental plaudits when it launched in 1997, but it has since lost ground to electric vehicle world leader Tesla, per Axios' Joann Muller. This battery plant will be the first to produce automotive batteries for Toyota in North America.

6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Congress hunts for shortcut to pass defense funding, debt limit combo

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer returned to his office Monday. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The scramble in Congress to pass the National Defense Authorization Act is being complicated by an effort to tie it to a needed hike in the federal debt limit.

Why it matters: The House and Senate are rapidly coming up against a series of deadlines they must address before the end of the year — or risk disrupting crucial military funding and upending the economy. Congressional leaders are now hoping they can knock out both "must-pass" priorities in one, complex swoop.

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