The News Lens (TNL), an independent Taipei-based Chinese-language news site, has completed a Series B fundraising with existing and new investors and plans to soon launch a series of new content initiatives. The round was led by Wiskey International Investment Group (Wiskey Capita), with its managing partner William Lin joining TNL’s board.
Investors who participated in the Series B round include North Base Media, managed by Marcus Brauchli, previously Executive Editor of The Washington Post and Sasa Vucinic, previous Managing Director of the Media Development Investment Fund, (formerly Media Development Loan Fund) an original seed investor in The News Lens.
Other investors participating in the Series B round are Walden International, Trinity Investment, Angelvest, Dorcas Investments, and angel investors Vic Chen, Wei Shang, Managing Director of Ogilvy PR Taiwan, Irene Chen, Board Director of The Foundation for Excellent Journalism Award, Edgar Chiu, General Manager of Camp Mobile Taiwan, and Alice Sun, Co-founder & COO of knowledge sharing social network Knock Know.
Joey Chung, the company’s CEO and co-founder, announced that the site would soon launch new video programming hosted by one of Taiwan’s best-known television presenters and begin publishing translated content from the U.S. publisher, Time Inc.
Additionally, Taiwanese television anchor Jennifer Shen has agreed to enter into a digital partnership with TNL as its Global News Anchor. Together with TNL’s eight-person video team, Shen will help TNL build out live-streaming and other exciting, original content for the digital age. TNL also has reached an agreement with Time Inc. to translate and digitally distribute content from the U.S. publisher’s flagship Time and Fortune brands.
In an exchange with TechCrunch, Chung commented on Shen joining the team: “It’s the first time in Taiwan history where someone of her caliber from traditional TV has come over to join new media, so it’s like a milestone, where a new media startup in Taiwan has finally grown up and we finally meet in the middle. It really symbolises that it’s a major player and can attract high-caliber talent—the number one anchor from the number one TV channel—to our company.”
Time Inc. International SVP, John Marcom, said: “We’re eager to expand our digital presence in Greater China, and the News Lens’ position with that audience is a great match with our own as an independent, trusted source. Our English-language digital audiences in the region are growing rapidly, and we’re eager to learn more about what resonates with the Chinese-speaking audience across the region and around the world.”
In relation to these developments, Chung commented: “After using the last six months to carefully plan and place our next steps, we are very pleased with these developments. A strategic, diverse, international group of institutional and angel investors has always been important to us as we expand strategically, as is the broadening of our content.”
The Time Inc. partnership exemplified this as it will allow TNL access to its vast library of content within its Time and Fortune brands, and work with TNL to cross-sell and promote that material in Asian markets.
Mario Yang, TNL’s Chief Content Officer and co-founder, said plans are advancing to create new vertical content areas for users seeking content on specific subjects, such as Every Little D, a new lifestyle sub-brand concentrating on softer content such as suiting and leisure products, and Drink with Mario, a podcast and whisky column.
The addition of Shen, whose background lies in video news content, will see original video content, live streaming, breaking news, original interviews and online talk shows become a significant element of TNL’s digital media offerings.
According to a media release, traffic to TNL is up 30 per cent from a year ago. Chung and Yang claim this highlights how Taiwanese readers value an independent media voice. To date, it maintains a workforce of nearly 70 staff, including its Hong Kong offices, and plans to continue expanding its international, video and sales teams.
To preserve that independence as the company grows and forms new partnerships, TNL has adopted an Editorial Independence Declaration that managers, employees and investors must agree to and which will be published on TNL’s main site.