Magnify’s Acquisition Of Cory Booker’s Waywire Startup Could Be The Latest Comeback For Curated Content


NYC-based video curation startup Waywire — founded by New Jersey Senator-elect Cory Booker — has been acquired by Magnify for an undisclosed sum, according to TechCrunch.

The past few months, Waywire turned into a huge liability for Booker’s political career; the over-funded, underperforming startup is tied up with connections to Oprah, Google chairman Eric Schmidt, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner, and many more entrepreneurial elite. In August, New Jersey Republican Steve Lonegan issued a statement claiming that a Booker victory would ensure “a third senator” to represent California billionaires. The New York Times reported that Booker’s equity in the company topped between $1 million and $5 million — not a shabby side-gig to supplement the meager Newark mayoral paycheck.

Booker gave up his board seat and all shares in the company in August, so will receive no windfall from the sale. This is likely for the best; Waywire has almost certainly sold at a financial loss for investors, who pumped a total of $1.75 million into the site. Waywire only saw 2,200 visitors in June, even after a high-profile pivot to become a “Pinterest” for video. TechCrunch reports that CEO Nathan Richardson (former head of Gilt City) left to join AOL shortly after Booker ceded his role, and most employees were likely working part-time or not at all.

Magnify, an NYC-based company with $5 million in venture funding and a goal to serve web video services to enterprise clients, may not be getting much with Waywire, besides some buzz and a few unenthusiastic employees. Regardless, CEO Steve Rosenbaum believes that Waywire can build out its consumer approach using Magnify’s back-end technology, and has already put the Waywire site through a minor redesign.

Curation — particularly human curation — has been making a curious comeback in content. Music mogul Jimmy Iovine recently raised $60 million for his ‘Daisy’ music service, which will feature professionally curated playlists; whether Waywire becomes anything more than a punchline may have more to do with Magnify’s marketing efforts than any back-end wizardry. Waywire has several worthwhile content partnerships with outlets such as Refinery29, Slate, CollegeHumor and HuffPostLive, but there’s a little feature on YouTube called the ‘Playlist’ which could serve as the most lethal competitor.

Personally? I like where Waywire’s heading; a ‘Pinterest for video’ lends itself to many entertaining uses, and the video advertising gold rush doesn’t seem to be stopping. The site has not technically launched out of public beta yet — there are still only 22 videos in the ‘Politics’ section — but the pieces for a successful site are lining up.

Senator Booker may not ever be able to join his fellow Stanford alums as a successful tech entrepreneur, but then, the people of New Jersey didn’t elect him for his business acumen. They elected him because he might be Superman…and because he’s (hopefully) not in politics for the money.