Previous versions of this article in print and on the Web referred to the Web site Mahalo as Mahola. This version has been corrected.
Brijit Cuts Magazine Pile Down to Bite-Size Pieces
Monday, October 29, 2007
The magazines stack up, unread, on your coffee table: the New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, Sports Illustrated, Vanity Fair. You subscribe to them but don't have time to read them. So there they sit, a glossy pile of guilt.
Where you see wasted money, Jeremy Brosowsky saw a business opportunity.
The Washington publishing entrepreneur recently rolled out Brijit, a Web site that creates 100-word abstracts of articles from dozens of magazines and rates them. Brijit, Brosowsky said, aims to be "everyone's best-read friend."
Now on Brijit are summations of articles in current issues of GQ, Wired, Mother Jones, ESPN the Magazine, the Economist, Smithsonian and more than 50 other magazines. Even if you never read the entire article, just scanning Brijit could make you the smartest person at your next cocktail party.
But the Internet is littered with good ideas that turn out to be bad businesses, and online publishing can be especially tricky: Do you go mass-market or niche? Subscription-based, or free and ad-supported? Original content or aggregation of other content?
Further, at just 34, Brosowsky already has one failed publishing venture under his belt.
But Brosowsky's latest idea is attracting interest and nearly $1 million in venture capital from about 10 investors, including Norman Pearlstine, former editor of Time magazine and now with Carlyle Group.
Brosowsky's inspiration came in part from being a father of two children with twins on the way. He said he tries to be an avid reader, but the many demands on his time have led to the creation of his own pile of unread, paid-for magazines.
"I wished there was someone who would tell me the five stories in that pile I have to read," Brosowsky said.
There are precedents for the idea. Reader's Digest became America's most popular magazine for decades by condensing content to short, easily readable articles. And magazine analyst Mark Edmiston notes that "The Week," the National Review's weekly magazine summary of news, written with attitude and wit, has made a solid business.
"I think [Brijit] makes a lot of sense," Edmiston said. "I think that's where the Web is going."
The Web is moving toward the combination of human reviewers with Internet search. WebMD founder Jeff Arnold has said that if the latest evolution of the Internet, Web 2.0, was about the consumer -- meaning user-generated sites such as MySpace, Facebook and YouTube -- then Web 3.0 will be about the editor.