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Million dollar fund created to ‘build a new media ecosystem in Asia’ – through Splice News and Civil Media

A US$1 million dollar fund to pump prime 100 Asian media start-ups over the next three years is to be launched jointly by Singapore-based The Splice Newsroom and New York-headquartered Civil Media.

 

Splice founder Alan Soon, a former Yahoo! managing editor, said the move was masterminded to combat the “anaemic growth of media startups in the region”. This initiative would help to create a robust media ecosystem, he said.

Asked by Mumbrella what sort of organisations would qualify for the ‘Splice 100’ grants which will open for applications officially in the final quarter of 2018, Soon said: “We’re looking at very early ideas – things that people want to try to do. Our goal is to help get them to a prototype. So we’re talking very early stage here. Probably under six months old.

“We have an audacious dream. We want to help drive the creation of 100 media startups in Asia over the next three years

“We’ll be opening this up to anyone who’s keen on starting up in the media space. We’re taking a broad view on the modern media stack. It’ll include content publishers, but also areas like adtech, analytics, social, data and personalisation.”

Alan Soon Mumbrella360 Asia 2017

Soon has an ‘audacious dream’

But given the authoritarian governments in most Asian countries where authorities were often intent on crushing independent media that held power to account, a robust media scene with real integrity and credibility might prove to be a tough challenge – Soon admitted.

“It is a difficult one for sure, but that hasn’t stopped journalists around the world from trying,” he said. “And that’s the plan — we need to find ways to make this happen.

“Journalists and first-time entrepreneurs need a vision and a roadmap based on best practices for building transformative services and products.”

Designed to harness the power of technology and capitalise of the number of platforms available to new media organisations, Splice 100 will offer funding of up to US$15,000 per applicant and free-of-charge training and consulting. Although Soon admitted that the quid pro quo might well be that participants hand over some equity in their start-up in exchange for the support.

“On equity, we’re still figuring out what would work best,” he explained. “Not sure yet to be honest. More on this down the line.”

However, outlining the grand vision, he said: “We believe we’re in a golden age of media. We now have the capability to connect with our audiences on more platforms than ever. We can target them with the content they want. We can also create new value that opens the door to more diversified revenue streams.

“In Asia, this promise is still unfulfilled. With the size of our data-connected audiences, we should be swimming in new opportunities for media entrepreneurs.”

Partnering Splice is The Civil Media Company, a new blockchain-based journalism venture which is providing the cash to back the scheme – Civil having received US$5m in funding itself from ConsenSys, which bills itself as “leading global blockchain venture studio”.

Civil’s model will allow readers to directly “sponsor” newsrooms, titles or even individual journalists through the buying of cryptocurrency ‘CVL’ tokens. The organisation is pursuing similar partnerships to Splice 100 in other parts of the world, including Europe and the United States.

“By providing the economic incentives and governance structures for newsmakers –  writers, editors, photographers, fact-checkers –  to self-organise, Civil offers a new business model for journalism,” said founder Matthew Iles. “Our goal is to create a self-sustaining global marketplace for journalism that is free from advertising, fake news and outside influence.”

Soon insisted that further details would be released “in the next few weeks”, adding: “We don’t have all the pieces together.” But those wishing to register early interest in the scheme can do so by contacting The Splice Newsroom.

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