CNN announced that it acquired Canopy, a 15-person startup that developed a personalized, privacy-focused content-recommendation engine. The WarnerMedia-owned news outlet said it will use Canopy’s technology to accelerate development of a new project to connect users “to trusted sources, storytellers and creators.”
Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. Founded in 2017, Canopy (canopy.cr) had raised $4.5 million led by private-equity firm Matrix Partners, according to Crunchbase. The startup, based in Brooklyn and Boston, also had investors from Spotify, WeWork, Splice, E14 Fund and Keybase.
CNN said all of Canopy’s 15 employees will join the news organization, led by founder and CEO Brian Whitman, who previously served as Spotify’s principal scientist. The Canopy team hails from companies including Instagram, Google, Twitter and Flipboard.
CNN said it will use Canopy’s system for the development of “NewsCo,” the code-name for its forthcoming news and information platform stocked with content from CNN and third-party partners. With the addition of Canopy’s team, CNN will have a team of about two dozen focused on the “NewsCo” project.
“This acquisition enables us to light up in a single transaction a proven, best-in-class team whose deep knowledge and skill sets would’ve taken many months or even years to assemble,” CNN EVP and chief digital officer Andrew Morse (pictured above) said in announcing the deal. “Canopy’s culture of fast-cycle, iterative software and product development will enable us to more rapidly realize our ambitions and deliver against our goals.”
Canopy uses a combination of human editors and machine learning to surface content people are most likely to be interested in, while protecting personal data on users’ devices. In 2018, Canopy launched Topic, an iOS app that provides a daily selection of personalized news content. With the acquisition, the Topic app will be phased out, CNN said.
“There has never been a more crucial time to help people discover trusted sources around topics and issues that matter most to them,” Canopy’s Whitman said in a statement. “We’re incredibly excited to join the team at CNN to build some amazing products for their millions of global users.”