Upworthy Is Doubling Its Staff After $8 Million Series A Funding Round

The "fastest growing media startup" has plans to expand into new verticals.

Upworthy, a content aggregator focused on emotionally hard-hitting "stuff that matters," has announced an $8 million Series A funding round led by Spark Capital (early investors in Tumblr and Twitter) with the mission-driven Catamount (Seventh Generation, Plum Organics) and the venture arm of the nonprofit Knight Foundation, which incubates new media initiatives big and small.

Eli Pariser, one of the site's cofounders, says they'll use the new cash to roughly double their staff, with a focus on engineering, analytics, and business development, and to expand into new verticals. "We got a lot of proposals from investors to do Upworthy-TMZ or Upworthy-Quartz, which felt off-mission for us," he said. "We’re running a bunch of experiments in different areas right now, like parenting and global health."

The mix of investors—new media, mission-driven, nonprofit journalism—highlights the odd position Upworthy currently occupies. In the last eight weeks, subscribers to the site's daily newsletter are up to 4.5 million, while their biggest month saw 30 million unique visitors. In contrast to viral media sites like BuzzFeed or I Can Has Cheezburger, Upworthy focuses on content that has some social relevance, whether about gay marriage, cancer survival, or war. The connection may be tenuous or information-free, as in this 1992 antiwar George Carlin routine currently being promoted as a commentary on Syria, but at least there's an attempt at being high-minded.

Yet unlike BuzzFeed (again) or the Huffington Post, Pariser says Upworthy is unlikely to do its own reporting anytime soon, no matter how much money it gets. "It's not like people are like, 'the Internet is good but I wish it had more content,'" he says. "What's missing is trusted sources that say, 'here are some great links that will be entertaining and interesting and help you see the world in a better way.' That’s what we’re trying to do."

[Image: Flickr user Steve Snodgrass]

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  • will rodgers

    So will the editors go viral with the backing you get from Knight, Spark Capital, Catamount Ventures and Uprising and other left wing supporters.  I'll bet if we follow the money it will lead to Omaba's back pocket [aka the federal treasury}. Todd Dangres who is the venture in Spark Venture Capital is often seen golfing with Obama,  Do you suppose he's teaching Obama about how capitalism works, or is Obama teaching him how the New Capitalism has become corporate welfare post economic meltdown? Libritards all flock together like buzzards .  You can fool the vast body of uninformed people who read your trash, but there are many of us who can just smell a liberal propaganda machine like Upworthy.  The name even gives it away.

  • CA_DixieMay

     And RW Fools will consistently get their talking points from moron talking heads on TV and spurious, easily disprobable email forwards. Keep up the good work there GOPers. You're helping Liberals more than hurting and it's quite fun to watch!

  • will rodgers

     CA_Diximay, other that shooting from the lip, do you have any hard evidence that my comment contains anything but verifiable truth? Right now if any one is laughing it is the world laughing with Putin as he made a big fool out of your Pres.

  • CA_DixieMay

     Shooting from the lip...pretty funny! Though it does nothing to further your cause but it cracked me up.

    You're the one letting the accusations fly. Provide some proof beyond the obvious Bagger email forward fed paranoia. Yes...I get them too but when I research their veracity I look for evidence, connections and demonstrable verification. You provided nothing but insults and accusations...have you got anything beyond that? ANYTHING but Dem/Lib/Obama hate motivating your pov???