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Matter launches media startup accelerator with Google News Lab and New York Times

TechCrunch TechCrunch 23/06/2016 Haje Jan Kamps

In a world where Old Media is locked in a perma-battle against New Media, the Matter Ventures accelerator is an interesting play. A startup accelerator targeting the media, Matter has been based in San Francisco to date, but is now opening a space in New York in collaboration with The New York Times and supported by Google News Lab.

Located smack-bang in the middle of Union Square, Matter’s new-found focus on New York is perhaps an obvious move; whereas Silicon Valley traditionally has a concentration of tech startups, New York remains the hub of everything media and adtech focused.

Matter hosts an intensive five-month accelerator program for startups focusing on media, but further leverages its position in the space to run intrapreneurial programs for its media partners, including “design thinking bootcamp” programs and other initiatives to open a two-way dialogue between startups and the incumbents.

The benefits are obvious but worth mentioning: For the hulking big media corporations, becoming more nimble, agile and startup-like in their approach is a good thing in an ever-accelerating, evolving media landscape. For the startups, having access to the enormous reach of organizations like the NYT and AP and immediate industry feedback is gold dust. Gotta love a good win-win.

“Over the last four years, we’ve established ourselves in the innovation capital of the world in San Francisco,” says Corey Ford, managing partner at Matter. “Now, we are ready to put down roots in the media capital of the world.”

“It’s not an exaggeration to say that New York, in addition to being our home, is the global capital of news media,” said the NYT’s CTO, Nick Rockwell. “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.”

The accelerator already had strong connections with a number of media organizations, including the Knight Foundation, the Public Radio Exchange, Associated Press and many others, and adding The New York Times to the mix is a shrewd move for both parties. The NYT is a prestigious and influential publication that’s a well-known player internationally, but — the name is a bit of a spoiler — it has strong roots in the Big Apple; it’s going to be exciting to see what Matter can do when starting to leverage the location advantage a bi-coastal presence will give it.

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