News aggregator startup Ongo.com goes live

Ongo.com, a subscription-based website backed by The Washington Post, The New York Times and USA Today publisher Gannett Co., launched on Tuesday promising a "new way to read, discover and share" news.


 


 

The Post, Times and USA Today are among the newspapers contributing content to Ongo along with Britain's Financial Times and Guardian, The Boston Globe, The Miami Herald, Slate and the US news agency the Associated Press.

The Post, Times and Gannett announced in September they had each invested $4 million in the Cupertino, California-based venture, whose website is advertising-free to provide a less-cluttered reading experience.

Ongo is making its debut as US newspapers seek new revenue streams and Web products amid a steady decline in print advertising revenue and circulation.

An Ongo subscription costs $6.99 a month. The service is accessible through a computer equipped with a Web browser, a smartphone or a tablet computer.

Ongo described itself in a press release as a "personal news service that gives consumers a fundamentally new way to read, discover and share digital news and information."

The Ongo home page highlights the most important stories of the day and stories picked by Ongo editors.

Readers can customize their selections by title, section or keyword, save articles to read later or share them with discussion groups, or "clubs," of other Ongo subscribers.

Ongo said it features all of the content from the print editions of The Washington Post and USA Today and selected content from the Financial Times and The New York Times.

The Financial Times charges readers for full access to FT.com and The New York Times has announced plans to begin charging readers of NYTimes.com early this year.

Ongo said additional titles can be added to a subscriber's account starting at 99 cents a month.

"Ongo is launching a news service that puts readers first, and will continue to do so by adding new publications and features," said Ongo founder and chief executive Alex Kazim.

"Our smart tools ensure that readers get the news they need while our editorial team spotlights the interesting, informative and entertaining stories that shouldn't be missed," Kazim said.

A former president of eBay's Skype subsidiary, Kazim has also served as head of marketing and business operations for PayPal and held senior engineering and management positions at Apple and other technology firms.

Ongo's launch comes ahead of the expected unveiling of The Daily, a digital newspaper for Apple's iPad from Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.

Murdoch and Apple's Steve Jobs had been expected to launch The Daily on January 19 but the event was delayed shortly before the announcement that the Apple chief executive was going on medical leave.

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