RocaNews closed a $4.4M seed round and acquired newstech company River to facilitate its mission to democratize the news. Roca will combine a booming online platform with AI and Web3 technology to eliminate partisanship and deliver factual and engaging content to viewers.
The funding and acquisition enable Roca to hire writers and developers to expand its news offerings and launch a social news platform that solves the issues plaguing legacy news: Divisive and out-of-touch content; outdated platforms; and business models that incentivize short-term clicks and damaging ideologies. These problems have generated record levels of division and distrust in the media.
“There’s a fundamental misalignment between what people want and what news companies are giving them,” says Max Towey, Roca’s CEO. “An exciting, social, gamified experience is the future of news.”
RocaNews launched in Washington, DC in August 2020 and become one of 2021’s fastest growing news companies, gaining 1.2 million active readers in less than a year. Roca delivers concise, non-partisan news to its global audience through Instagram and email. Its innovative delivery and open dialogue with readers distinguished it from other outlets and fueled its rise to preeminence. It has the highest user engagement of any news platform on social media, with a rate 4x that of Barstool and Morning Brew, 8x that of ViceNews, and 10x that of CNN.
The seed round was led by Ori Allon, a tech entrepreneur at the cutting edge of search and news. Allon founded the search engine Orion (sold to Google), social information platform Julpan (sold to Twitter), and Compass (A multi-billion dollar real estate technology platform). Other seed participants include mission-driven angels.
River is the App Store’s top-rated news app. It launched in October 2020 with funding from Founders Fund, .406 Ventures, Scooter Braun, and others – now Roca stockholders. River has developed proprietary algorithms for aggregating, searching, and filtering digital news.
Roca’s platform will make news consumption a multidimensional, interactive process in which content is gamified and user-experience is paramount. The platform will leverage AI and Web3 technology to disaggregate the editorial process, which in legacy news companies is hierarchical and prone to ideological skew. The revolutionary technology will make RocaNews more transparent and accurate than any other outlet, and give Roca access to substantial, innovative revenue streams that don’t require clickbait to grow.
Schiff Hardin LLP served as legal counsel to RocaNews for the capital raise and acquisition of River.