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Zite CEO Mark Johnson: 'Honestly, The Sooner Zite Goes Away, The Better'

Zite CEO Mark Johnson: 'Honestly, The Sooner Zite Goes Away, The Better' Science & Technology World

 

We all want to be in touch with the “Zeitgeist” — the spirit of our times. We want to know the current events, important ideas and smart opinions that are circulating in our world-what’s happening and what’s interesting. And we want to be challenged with experiences that are new and unexpected.

With so much information available online today, it’s increasingly difficult and time-consuming to find the content we want. That’s where Zite comes in. Zite evaluates millions of new stories every day, looking at the type of article, its key attributes and how it is shared across the web. Zite uses this information to match stories to your personal interests and then delivers them automatically to your iPad or iPhone.

Zite harnesses and blends decades of research that it has tuned during six years of product development. Only Zite delivers your personal slice of the Zeitgeist.

If you are not familiar with Zite, it is a personal news reading application that launched on the iPad in 2011. Essentially, Zite was a big recommendation engine that gives you articles based on what you like to read—based on your social feeds like Facebook and Twitter, but also based on your reading history and preferences.

Want to read more mobile news? More ReadWrite? More from a specific author specifically? You could tune your Zite to offer you those articles but also many similar articles. The beauty of Zite was never its user experience—which, to be fair, was always good but never great—but the engine that powered it.

Flipboard is basically a magazine—you get feeds from Twitter or Facebook accounts delivered in an interesting and readable way. My favorite aspect of Flipboard has been to turn Twitter feeds (like my own) into personalized magazines for the iPad or Android smartphones and tablets. In the same way in which I consider my own Twitter account to be a resource for my readers—by retweeting other publications, making interesting observations, taking pictures and being goofy—my Twitter feed is just as interesting to read in the context of Flipboard. But when it came to Flipboard, all I really got were the feeds, not the serendipity that came from the recommendation engine of Zite.

Flipboard is now getting exactly the type of engine that it needs to be able to advance its user base and its product.

Zite is going to die—and soon. According to the parameters of the acquisition, the Zite technology team led by cofounder Mike Klaas will go to Flipboard, while a couple of people not really involved in the building of Zite’s recommendation engine won't make the jump. One of those individuals is Zite CEO Mark Johnson, who called ReadWrite after the announcement of the acquisition to discuss his thoughts on the future of Zite, its value to Flipboard and his plans for what’s next.

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