With all the conversation recently (see here and here) around Google’s role in either destroying or underwriting newspapers, this news was interesting:
Tim Armstrong, Google’s president of advertising for North America and Latin America, is underwriting a new startup called Patch, which plans to put small teams of journalists in communities all over the country to produce hyper-local news content
Patch describes itself thusly:
Simply put, Patch is a new way to find out about, and participate in, what’s going on near you.
We’re a community-specific news and information platform dedicated to providing comprehensive and trusted local coverage for individual towns and communities.
We want to make your life better by giving you quick access to the information that’s most relevant to you. Patch makes it easy to:
* Keep up with news and events
* Look at photos and videos from around town
* Learn about local businesses
* Participate in discussions
* Submit your own announcements, photos, and reviews
This is an entirely old idea, one that has been tried dozens of times by dozens of startups and newspaper companies alike. Heck, I suggested exactly this in a speech to the newspaper industry back in 2000. But then again, it’s very rarely the first that wins, its usually the one with a slightly better execution who shows up at the right time. After all, Google wasn’t the first search engine, was it?
The site has this to say about Tim Armstrong’s role in the company:
Polar Capital Group, Tim Armstrong’s private investment company, is an investor in Patch. Polar invested in Patch because Tim believes that Patch should be in every community in America, and wants Patch in his town. He wants to read local news stories done by journalists, make sure that local government is transparent and accountable, see all the ways he can give back to his community, and have his town be as interesting and alive online as it is offline. Tim is also a believer in American ingenuity and knows that products like Patch will help deliver a commercially viable way for communities to support the important work of local journalists, institutions, governments, and businesses. Tim works at Google and his family lives in a Connecticut patch.
More on Polar here.
9 thoughts on “Patch Funded by Google Exec”
Well, Twitter was neither a good, nor an original idea — but it came after an increase of features that rendered the reference social network sites cluttered: it now appears simple and clean, and (for reasons I can’t understand) “safer”.
Timing is as important as execution, and now that a majority of the population have understood how many journalists do a poor job, and their role in the production of news, this might take off. I’d also argue that having anything newsworthy about the launch (someone who no one ever heard about, but who happen to work for *the* company)
This seems great but will have to be pushed hard to really get people’s attention.
While I love Patch’s hyperlocal approach, I wonder if they’re adding anything substantive to these communities.
Most of them already have committed bloggers to chronicle the events and businesses that comprise the community – what real value is added by the introduction of journalists to do the same thing?
It’s an interesting idea, and I hope there are eventually some Patch correspondents in Boulder, Colo.
Yes it’s not a new idea. We think http://www.ourpatch.com.au is remarkably similar.
You are right it’s not a new idea and it’s a challenge. We’ve focussed on rural/regional Australia and while our traffic has grown strongly getting advertisers to care has been a huge challenge.
Another challenge is when it’s truly hyperlocal there is not always enough news to go around. It all makes sense but it’s harder than it looks.
Pretty straight forward idea and has it’s place on the web… Will never make it to the next stage though in my honest opinion.
I played around with http://www.localism.com for month’s — the little communities on the local level never take off.
Some of the most active ones don’t get any traffic either, or as much as you would expect, so they are kinda pointless.
Unless Google sends traffic to this patch thing, it will see some activity while it gets some press but at the end it will never work or do what it is supposed to do.
I’d love to be wrong on this though 🙂
Love the concept, but it seems like it would require a loooong term time commitment, with significant near term expenses. Don’t really see it gaining traction.
I live in Maplewood and there is no sign of these guys yet. None. We’ll see. :))
It is all about the timing and commitment. They need to roll out slowly.