In March, I announced that Matter, the world’s only independent start-up accelerator focused on media, was going to launch in NYC in June. We didn’t have a space, we didn’t have any new partnerships supporting our launch, and we didn’t know what the demand would look like from NYC media startups. But we did know one thing— action creates opportunity.So, with a bias towards action, we landed in the “concrete jungle where dreams are made of,” took the LIRR from JFK to Penn Station, and began to create some opportunity.
Today, I am excited to announce that, as we open our doors to our new Matter NYC space right on Union Square, we welcome The New York Times as our newest media partner, Google News Lab as the supporter of our NYC space, and the 12 media startups that make up our first bicoastal Matter cohort — Matter 6.
After we announced our NYC expansion we came to realize how much pent-up demand there was for Matter amongst NYC media entrepreneurs. We received 687 applications and, after a rigorous application process culminating in finalist weeks in both SF and NYC, we selected 6 to be based in SF and 7 to be based in NYC. They started their Matter journey together in a joint bootcamp in SF on June 13 and today, on the day the doors open to our NYC space, we are excited to reveal them to the world and have you meet the 24 mission-driven founders behind these ventures.
You can read more about our latest class, Matter 6, here. But before you do, I’d like to share more about our new collaboration with The New York Times as well as how Google News Lab helped us expand to NYC by reaffirming its commitment to Matter through support for our new space on Union Square.
The New York Times Joins Matter.
When we first launched Matter three and a half years ago with the support of Knight Foundation, KQED, and PRX, I firmly believed that by creating a truly independent start-up accelerator focused on helping early-stage media entrepreneurs experiment and fail their way to building the future of media that we would also be creating a place where important, mission-aligned media institutions could come to re-invent themselves, free from the constraints of their own Innovator’s Dilemma.
The New York Times becomes Matter’s ninth media partner seeking to leverage Matter to do just that, joining Knight Foundation, PRX, KQED, The Associated Press, McClatchy, AH Belo, CNHI, and Tribune Publishing. We are proud that this collaboration gives one of the most prestigious brands in journalism access to our culture, our process, and our community through our parallel program for media partners.
The Times, along with other partners, will run internal innovation teams alongside our entrepreneurs during the 20-weeks of our accelerator program, going through our bootcamp, our design reviews, and our Demo Day. We’ve already helped media institutions such as the Associated Press and KQED achieve real results in pursuing an outside innovation strategy through us and we are excited to help The New York Times do the same.
I am excited to work directly with Nick Rockwell, the CTO of The New York Times, and Will Bardeen, SVP of Strategy & Development, both of whom will lead the New York Times’ collaboration with Matter.
Like me, Nick sees a big win-win between The New York Times and Matter. “It’s not an exaggeration to say that New York, in addition to being our home, is the global capital of news media. To be in both places really strengthens Matter’s mission and brand.” says Nick, “We think that this is a unique opportunity for us at the Times to observe, participate, and maximize our exposure to design thinking, and the transparency Matter brings to the process. If I could send 200 people through the Matter bootcamp, I would, because the need to innovate really permeates the entire organization.”
Teams from the New York Times have just completed our partner bootcamp and their first design review and have three more design reviews to go before revealing their progress at Matter’s first Partner Demo Day on October 26.
I can think of no stronger way to land in New York City than by collaborating with the New York Times. It’s one of the most influential and prestigious brands in journalism and the impact it has had over the last hundred years is the type of impact we want our entrepreneurs to achieve over the next 100 years.
Google News Lab strengthens its support for Matter.
When Matter first launched on 12/12/12 (with an article in The New York Times of all places), I had hoped to build a track record that could eventually bring The New York Times on board one day. But, with our mission, I also hoped to attract and build one of the world’s strongest communities of media innovators. Once that NYT article went up, my Twitter stream and inbox lit up with incredible mentors who were drawn towards our mission and wanted to help out.
One of the first was Steve Grove. I hadn’t met him yet but I soon learned that Steve was a former journalist who then joined YouTube in its early days and was responsible for building YouTube’s News and Politics team. I couldn’t have thought up a better first mentor to bring into Matter. (Remember — actions create opportunity.)
Steve became a Matter mentor from Day 1, pursuing his passion for supporting innovators building a stronger future for journalism. Later, when he and his colleagues started the Google News Lab, we began discussing how we could work more formally together.
Soon Google became Matter’s first technology partner, through a joint partnership with Google for Entrepreneurs and Google News Lab. Not only did Google help deepen our bench of technology mentors, it also pushed us to think of ways to expand our impact on media innovation by scaling our efforts.
So when we decided to pull the trigger on expanding Matter from SF to NYC, Google News Lab immediately stepped up to help. That was the moment when I knew that we were going to pull off our bold expansion plans. Soon Google News Lab’s Ryan Bruno was on the ground in NYC with Liz Kopp and me, seeking out a space that could mirror the scrappy garage vibe that we have in SF.
The real estate environment in NYC is tough, to say the least. You soon learn that spaces with light are rare and accurate square footage measurements are even more so. And NYC real estate agents thought we were a little crazy. You’re launching on June 13? That’s in like two months, are you kidding? But after our first failed week in NYC where we were wondering what we might have to settle for, we set out with Ryan for week two. The first space that we saw with him was right on Union Square, it was the least expensive place we’d seen, and it was perfect. It was as if you had transported Matter SF to NYC, stretched it 50% longer and 30% thinner, and put it on the third floor of a building overlooking Union Square — right in the heart of the entrepreneurial energy of New York City.
With both the financial and human support of Google News Lab, we had found our home.
Google News Lab is supporting something core to us — our space — which provides the four walls that hold our culture and bring our community together. At the heart of our new home will be the Google News Lab Mentorship Lounge, the convening point of where our entrepreneurs and our mentors meet and create what we call “intentional serendipity”. It’s representative of Google’s power as a great convener of leaders across news media and innovation, which I’ve seen first hand at many of the Google News Lab’s events.
“We could not be more excited about Matter’s expansion to New York City.” says Steve Grove. “Mentorship is really at the core of Matter’s approach and we wanted to build a space within the new location that really facilitated mentorship in a comfortable and exciting way. We’ve always believed that physical space is really important to help startups grow. To have that physical space in New York just down the street from the biggest media companies is a powerful way to take advantage of geography.”
Great investors pick their winners and double down on them. We’re glad Google News Lab is partnering with us.
We couldn’t have pulled off this expansion without the financial support of Google News Lab, the safety net of interim space that Jim Kennedy of the Associated Press provided us, the bet that the New York Times is making on us, the dedication of the Matter NYC team, Liz Kopp and Nikita Shamdasani, pulling this all together on a deadline that even seems fast by NYC standards, the enthusiasm of the 687 applicants who wanted to make it into out first NYC class and the 12 who did, and the bet that our current partners — Associated Press, AH Belo, McClatchy, CNHI, KQED, Knight Foundation, PRX, and Tribune Publishing — made on us when expansion to New York City was just an idea I threw out there on Demo Day a year ago.
We’ve got a lot of work left to do to make Matter NYC a success. But our actions have already created some incredible opportunities. And I hope to make our partners, old and new, proud.
We’ll see you at Union Square!
Originally posted on Medium.