By Eric Johnson
You can’t throw a rock in Silicon Valley without hitting a media start-up. But within that field, new and untested business models are the most important link to journalism’s future, said Matter Ventures CEO Corey Ford — and they need a space to grow.
Ford comes to Matter, formerly known as Public Media Accelerator, from Runway, the accelerator inside of Eric Schmidt’s venture capital firm Innovation Endeavors.
Matter (not to be confused with the similarly named long-form journalism start-up) has funding for at least two years from its investors, KQED and the Knight Foundation, each of which put in $1.25 million. A third partner, the Public Radio Exchange (PRX), will act in a more advisory role.
But as Ford recently told in an interview at Matter’s new working space in San Francisco, that doesn’t mean the entrepreneurs who apply to the accelerator between now and January 6 are applying to work for PBS or NPR.
In fact, just the opposite is true — although it’s possible some of the projects that come out of the accelerator could be of interest to public media companies, since Ford took over in April he has placed the focus squarely on sustainable for-profit business models:
: It’s a fundamental shift that we had to do. I started in April, but we were announced to the world as Public Media Accelerator before then, before we started developing what this is. At Stanford’s D-school (design school, where Ford used to teach), you come up with a problem statement to be “needs-focused and solution-agnostic.” You don’t want to embed the solution in your problem statement.
Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.