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Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Global news media startup Semafor seeks Indian partner for local version

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Semafor, a global news media firm, is looking for an India partner to develop a local version. The company was co-founded by Justin Smith, Bloomberg Media’s former CEO.

Former Bloomberg Media CEO Justin Smith said in January that he was quitting his high-profile job to develop a news business that would provide “unbiased journalism” to a worldwide audience.

Smith collaborated with former New York Times media writer Ben Smith (not related), who was also the editor of Buzzfeed, to appeal to an estimated 150-200 million English-speaking, upwardly mobile, youthful, and global readers worldwide.

Seven months later, Semafor has raised $25 million in preliminary capital and employed more than 35 high-profile journalists, business leaders, product and technology specialists.

It will be available in the United States and Africa this autumn. Having avoided venture capital firms, the news outlet has attracted investors such as former Atlantic owner David Bradley, American Journalism Project founder John Thornton, crypto exchange FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried, 3G Capital co-founder Jorge Paulo Lemann, and Jessica Lessin, founder of tech publication The Information.

Semafor has lofty goals that are unaffected by the bombardment that most digital media organizations are facing as a result of internet behemoths Google and Facebook controlling the majority of ad money.

Instead, the firm will double down on hiring, increasing its team size to 70 by the time it goes live in October, untouched by macroeconomic challenges that have resulted in job losses and a severe slowdown across businesses globe. It is seeking for collaborations in India to launch a local version shortly, according to Smith, who was recently in Mumbai.

Due to FDI limits, Indian rules prohibit multinational periodicals from operating independently.

Smith said, “An Indian edition is a long-term goal for us, and we look forward to working with a local media company to pursue that option jointly.”

Semafor currently has offices in London, New York, and Washington, DC, in addition to an African team.

Smith added, “We’ll be creating regional and national goods throughout the Middle East, Asia, Europe, and Latin America all at the same time.”

Semafor is attempting to undermine major global news outlets such as The New York Times, CNN, and The Washington Post. According to Smith, the main American and even British media firms have treated overseas markets as an afterthought.

He said, “We sought to establish local bureaus from the beginning rather than deploy foreign journalists to cover worldwide markets.”

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