By Jeff Gelles
A company whose mobile app offers a "social reader" that can be customized to capture news and blog content that users find especially engaging.
A company whose software connects people with similar interests as they search the Internet, and fosters collaboration among them.
A company that aims to improve the effectiveness of ads delivered to mobile devices.
Those are the three new tenants of the Project Liberty Digital Incubator, founded by the parent company of The Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News, and the Philly.com website to encourage innovations in digital media and funded by a $250,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
The three companies were chosen earlier this month from about two dozen applicants by Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania. The incubator, housed alongside the publications at their new Center City offices, provides six months of rent-free space, mentoring, equipment, and technical and administrative support. Drexel University, a cosponsor along with Dreamit Ventures and the Philadelphia Foundation, provides student interns through the school's cooperative-education program.
The first three companies housed in the incubator have received more than $2 million in angel and venture-capital investment, said Mark Block, vice president of Interstate General Media L.L.C., owner of the newspapers and website. The new companies' arrival was briefly delayed while the publications relocated into newly leased space at 801 Market St., he said.
The incubator's focus is on start-up or early-stage businesses. Its three new tenants are:
Rumble News Ltd. Rumble is a company founded in Israel that has built a "social reader" for news and blogs onto a YouTube-like framework that allows users to select their favorite channels.
Al Azoulay, founder and chief executive, says Rumble offers media companies "a complete mobile suite" for reaching audiences on smartphones or tablets.
For consumers, Rumble's app offers an alternative to platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. "Whenever you read an item, you can share it over your personal Rumble Channel, making it instantly visible to your followers," the company says at its website, www.rumble.me.
Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.