One of the biggest draws of websites such as Reddit and Hacker News is the way in which news stories are compiled and organized based on popularity. On Hacker News, for instance, a story about the latest release of a free version of a popular gaming development software might be the top-ranked article of the moment based on other users “upvoting” it. Reddit is similar in that the most popular stories are ranked in order of how important, timely, or interesting Redditors find them.
A group of entrepreneurs based out of the Harvard iLab — Max Campion, Hari Ganesan, and Rachel Moranis — have tried to bring the same type of feature to mobile devices with a service that organizes the top news of the moment based on its overall popularity on the web.
The company, Allston-based BriefMe, officially launched its news ranking mobile app in the Apple App Store today after months of beta-testing. According to the company, it is the first-ever news ranking system. (Yahoo’s News Digest ranks news being funneled through Yahoo twice per day based on importance.)
“I thought that it was incredible that there was absolutely no ranking system for news,” said founder, chief executive, and Harvard alum Max Campion. “It’s such an ephemeral space, and there is such a need to be able to see what the world is reading now.”
The app aggregates news based on a BriefMe Score that uses a proprietary algorithm to organize the most relevant news articles and topics from the never-ending Internet news cycle based on importance and traction on social media. BriefMe doesn’t just rank the most poignant stories of the day overall but also breaks stories down in categories such as politics, business, and sports, among others. “In addition to ranking news on a one through 10 scale, we also give a score, between one and 100, on how ‘hot’ an article is in real-time,” explained Campion.
Eventually, Campion said that the company is going to develop some user analytics based on how its users consume news.
“We are super excited to open it up and see what people think,” Campion said.
Last April, BriefMe raised $400,000 in seed investment funding from a group that included Digitas and UNREAL Brands founder Michael Bronner, and Russel Pergament, who founded the TAB newspapers. The company currently employs six people.
An Android version of the app is coming “soon,” according to the BriefMe website.