News Break, the local news app, raised an impressive $115 million in new funding announced Thursday. News Break also provides national news, sorted by artificial intelligence. The company said the round placed a valuation on the News Break that makes it among the first “unicorns” of 2021. That implies the round put the new value at over $1 billion. News Break is among the few media organizations that have proven that local news is not dead. It is thriving. Via targeting news and information for a large number of locations, the reader gets a rich trove of content that no single medium can offer.
News Break’s national news is divided into traditional sections. Due to the tremendous importance of COVID-19, it runs an entire section with news and data. The app has sections on entertainment, sports, science, food, health, pets, the military, animals, vehicles and relationships.
News Break has greater than three times year-over-year user growth, reaching 12 million daily active users. Some of the capital will be used for overseas expansion. According to Apptopia, News Break is often the most downloaded news app at Google Play and in the App Store. Jeff Zheng, CEO at News Break, commented: “Today, more than 30 million app users across the country trust News Break to deliver their breaking neighborhood news.” It launched its iOS and Android apps in 2016.
News Break’s leadership includes Zheng and Harry Shum as chair of the board. Previously, Shum was Executive Vice President of Artificial Intelligence and Research at Microsoft.
The conventional logic about local news is that consumers have needed to turn to specific newspapers, radio and TV and hyperlocal sites to get news. Some segments of these traditional media have faltered. The local news app concept has changed the dynamics via aggregation and the ability to use AI for local targeting.
News Break also has introduced a new national model that has begun to take the place of AOL and Yahoo. These portals have traditionally been PC-based products. As Americans have moved media consumption to smartphones, news consumption has migrated with it. And the app is used much more on smartphones than browser-based websites.
The two other large players in the news app feed are Apple News and SmartNews.
The new Series C funding was led by Francisco Partners, which over the past 20 years has raised over $24 billion in capital and invested in more than 300 technology companies. According to Crunchbase, News Break had received $51.4 million in venture funding prior to this round, largely from IDG Capital, which has invested also in electric vehicle startups Zoox and Nio.
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