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  • 08.17.11

Chris Hughes’s Jumo And GOOD Join Forces

GOOD, publisher of the magazine by the same name and the social action platform is acquiring Jumo, the cause-oriented social network created by Facebook and team Barack Obama veteran Chris Hughes.

Jumo, the social network created by Facebook cofounder
Chris Hughes, and designed to help people find good causes and take meaningful
action, has been acquired by GOOD, the media platform for “people who want to
live well and do good.”

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The amount
or terms were not disclosed.

Hughes, who launched Jumo (in beta) in March 2010 will join GOOD as a
senior advisor. “We’ll stay true
to our (c)3 roots,” he says, referring to Jumo’s former nonprofit status.
“Jumo.com will be the home for our open source code base, so that nonprofits
and developers can use it.” But
the Jumo team will be fully integrated into the GOOD ecosystem. “There’s a lot
we’re still working out,” Hughes tells Fast Company. “But I’m really excited.”

It’s an interesting move for Hughes, who has impeccable
startup credentials and somewhat of a do-gooder rockstar status in tech circles. He left Facebook to become the director of online
organizing
for Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. (His nickname at
Facebook was “The Empath.”) About 15,000 nonprofits and NGOS have created a presence on Jumo.com, and more than
one million people have been able to follow issues and connect
with organizations that are doing good things through the portal. (The average user follows 12
nonprofits on the site.) And Jumo has been piloting some community fundraising campaigns, like a recent one for victims of the Somalia drought, that have yielded good results. But keeping interest alive in the do-gooder space can be tough. Hughes says he has learned a lot. “People need carefully
curated content if you are going to sustain their interest,” he says. “Particularly
in the context of the not for profit world. People have to be consistently
inspired, outraged, or excited. And
there are nonprofits out there who are doing noble work in their communities
and good jobs with their social outreach, but simply can’t generate enough
content, particularly on local issues.”

Though acquisitions within the nonprofit world are more
common
than people think, a 501(c)3 that attracts or accepts for-profit media money
is not. But GOOD, which has long strived to be a different sort of beast, seems to be a good fit.

GOOD set out to be about big things from the start. It
launched as a magazine in 2006, dedicated to the proposition that people can
live a good life while “giving a damn” about the world, offering a mix of technology, health, environment, business, politics, education, and
design through a distinct and liberal lens. It was cofounded by Ben Goldhirsh,
a Massachusetts native who moved to L.A. to go to film production school, but
dropped out to start his own production company. Goldhirsh, a Brown graduate with a weighty inheritance (he is the son of the late Bernie Goldhirsh, the beloved founder
of our sister publication, Inc.) avoided being that wealthy kid who
dabbled. Instead, he gravitated toward building a communications platform–print magazine, website, films, events, and now a consulting arm–with an
entrepreneurial bent and good works built in. They currently get 3 million unique visitors to their site each month, and have more than 648,000 Twitter followers. Jumo helps accelerate their plans. “We are moving away from, ‘We’re
a media company, we create; you’re an audience, you consume.’ We have always
wanted to be more of a community of like-minded people,” he says. For example, GOOD runs 30 Day Challenges that ask people to do something to
improve themselves, like take on a vegetarian diet. “We got great casual feedback,” he said, “but we never had
any functional community to really dig in to.” In October 2009, GOOD closed a round of Series A funding in the “single millions” as characterized by former GOOD President Craig Shapiro to TechCrunch. This is their first acquisition.

Goldhirsh recalls reaching out to Hughes after the 2008
election, hoping to entice him on board. “We had similar problems that we were trying
to solve [in the world], and had similar theories of change.” But Hughes, who
was weary from the campaign, waved him off. It wasn’t that I wasn’t interested,” Hughes says, laughing, when
reminded of the conversation. “I really needed to figure some stuff out.”

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Back then, Hughes told me, “I’ve been in the business of building technology that
networks people. So far, the goal has been to
make it easier to communicate and self-organize. Depending on what I do next,
it may be to make it easier for people to learn about the world around
them.”

The decision to merge forces came quickly, during a routine touch-base
call early this past June. “There was no great scene, our eyes didn’t meet
across a crowded room,” laughs Goldhirsh. “We just started talking about what
we were doing and suddenly, it made sense.” Hughes was looking for an unlimited supply of good content,
“in the broadest possible sense,” he says, and Goldhirsh wanted to add more social tools. From
idea to term sheet took less than 60 days.

Goldhirsh says that having Hughes around will add mightily “to the collective neurons” that make up a growing empire that includes GOOD
Corps, a social impact oriented consulting arm that works with big brands like
Pepsi, GE, IBM, and MasterCard. “We have two fundamental businesses, media and strategy,” says Goldhirsh. On the drawing board for additional revenue are membership, transactions, and other products. But for the time being, Hughes remains focused on
Jumo’s next act, which will appear under the GOOD imprimatur in some form this November or December. Asked how he will measure collective success, Hughes says he’s looking
for a metric that may not exist yet. “How many people are inspired to make a
meaningful impact on the world and what are they actually doing?” he asks. “It’s too reductionist to say
that meaningful action is just a donation.” He talks about people making changes in their lives,
organizing politically, and the opportunity he has to capture that. Then he
pauses. “You gotta find the right number.”

[Image: Flickr user dsearl]

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