citybiz+ Jono Matusky: Newsman in Love with AI

With news ubiquitous, and publishers in decades-long slide, a news media startup might seem like a brave bid. Jono Matusky’s Newsprint — an interesting choice of name for a 21st century media entity far removed from paper — is not a traditional publisher of news, but an aggregator with generative AI smarts.

Last month, the Philadelphia-headquartered firm picked up a small newsletter, Daily Nugt, with a modest 1,500 subscribers, because its French creator — a serial entrepreneur called Tibo Louis-Lucas — has developed an AI tool to curate content.The acquisition doubles down on AI as today’s driver, with the Daily Nugt’stool supplementing one Matusky has already built to create briefs at Newsprint.

“Our big bet at Newsprint is that personalization and speed, as enabled by AI, are two keys to providing content directly relevant to each user,” Matusky, who has multiple degrees from Carnegie Mellon University, said in an interview, pointing out that it is for these two reasons that readers have turned to social media for news.

Rising Readership

The other reason Matusky is enthusiastic about news is rising readership— something not always obvious amid widespread gloom over news media — and rising level of expectations.

“Users continue to demand access to high-quality, timely, and impactful information more than ever,” he pointed out. This demand comes from business leaders and communications professionals, among others, and “we see a big opportunity for tools like Newsprint – AI agents that can help decision-makers stay ahead of the curve,” he added.

Matusky studied materials science, engineering and public policy for his BS degree at Carnegie Mellon, and later received an MBA degree focused on entrepreneurship, but he was all the time hooked to AI, “since my first days at Carnegie Mellon.”

Admittedly, AI and machine learning were then far less exciting than they might seem today. Matusky says it was very focused on analysis and prediction, and lacked the kind of creative applications one sees now. But Matusky “dove back in with the launch of GPT 3 in 2020,” when for the first time he “saw a tool that hinted at the type of AI you [have] seen in books and movies.”

Out of college, Matusky tried his hand at varied things. He co-founded a gluten-free brewery, worked for a maker of sodium ion batteries, and for two years served a foundation in Havana, mentoring “technologists, artists and entrepreneurs” in Cuba. It is after this that he began to build real things with technology and AI.

At Plynth, a startup he founded with the aim of marrying digital and physical experiences, Matusky built an AI-based image recognition tool. Later, he joined a private equity-funded public relations firm, Gregory FCA, run by his father, once a magazine writer. Here Matusky created a couple of writing tools, including one aptly called Gladwrite.

“I remember that we debuted an AI-generated press release at the company Christmas party in December 2021 and people’s mouths dropped open,” he recalled. “That ultimately turned into, and after the launch of ChatGPT, I doubled down on AI and never looked back.”

Show Me the Money 

Newsprint has laid out a clear path to monetization. Matusky thinks the future of news will be “much more personalized,” a phenomenon already revealed by the success of social media algorithms that tailor unique feeds for users. The ability to “curate and personalize news content at scale,” Matusky believes, will drive business, with users ready to pay for the value it brings.

“We’re leveraging the new generation of AI tools and techniques to intelligently select the most relevant news for each of our users, and then we’re summarizing and analyzing it in a way that’s specific to the reader,” Matusky said. “Newsprint is very focused on a B2B model, which means our users pay for access to timely, tailored, and impactful information that’s directly relevant to their business,” he added

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Newsprint expects to leverage three key aspects from its acquisition of Daily Nugt — newsletter, video and social media monitoring. This means, the company said when announcing the acquisition, Newsprint users won’t just see articles written about topics that interest them but also “see summaries of conversations happening on social media, deep dives on YouTube, stories published exclusively in newsletters, and more.”

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Currently, Newsprint is offering free services for individuals and solo creators, and for educational use. For communication and marketing professionals, it has created a more advanced service to tailor news, costing $8 a month. It expects to offer agencies, communication teams and brands an even more specialized service.

“Our long-term vision is to empower users with the most relevant and up-to-date information on the world around them,” said Matusky. “In the short term, we’re working on a new release that will deliver some of the most requested features from our users. That includes more control over what news they see with highly tailored topics as well as personalized summaries and AI recommendations.”