Axel Hansen and Jonah Varon were sophomores at Harvard when they first created Newsle. They’ve since dropped out and moved to San Francisco (insert Zuckerberg reference here), and all in good fortune. The company’s just announced they’ve raised $600K in seed financing from Lerer Ventures and SV Angel, making it easier for everyone to keep tabs on their friends, according to Tech Crunch.
Giving you the “news about your people,” Newsle saves you the trouble of filtering through a sea of status updates, showing you only what’s being written about on your friends or the public figures you’re interested in. Did we just cover a story on your buddy’s company in BostInno? Newsle could certainly tell you that, since it pulls from your friends on Facebook and LinkedIn. The newsfeed you’re seeing no longer then becomes what your friends are saying about others, but what others are saying about them.
Thanks to their new RSS — also announced by the company today — Newsle can crawl more than 100,000 news sources every day, pulling together over one million articles from major media outlets, blogs and any other local publications on the people you want to hear about. If Newsle misses a story, users also have the option to submit them, and they can Facebook message or tweet the people they’re following directly from Newsle’s web interface.
While Newsle’s overarching goal has been to build an open-ended resource that allows people to track news about their friends, the new capital will allow them to launch a mobile app, which is expected to go live in a few months. The funding will also be used to hire engineers, since it’s hard for the duo to tackle everything on their own.
We caught up with Hansen on the phone, who says he’s “really excited” about the funding. Of course, we had to ask about his choice to leave Harvard, especially since it’s there they were awarded $10,000 at last year’s Harvard Innovation Challenge. While they did intend to use the money for summer office space in San Francisco, Hansen admits they didn’t know they’d end up staying there.
“San Francisco is completely different from Boston,” Hansen says, claiming there are a lot more people there working on consumer tech. On the East Coast, people wouldn’t understand Newsle when Hansen explained it to them, while on the West Coast Hansen says, “Everyone gets it, and everyone has good advice.”
Hansen does hope to return to Harvard someday, saying he loved being there. Currently, it’s just too hard to juggle classes and Newsle.
As for those Zuckerberg references? Hansen admits the Facebook founder has been an inspiration for them. He also says, however, that it’s incredibly easy to take a leave of absence from the Ivy League institute. Beyond that, “That’s really all we have to say.” So you can draw your own comparisons from here.