Contextly Joins SXSW Interactive Accelerator Competition & Brawl

fightThe first rule about tech journalism startup fight club is that you must blog about it, so here it goes.

Contextly has been accepted into a fight to death with seven other news-centric startups as part of the SXSW Interactive Accelerator competition.

We’re super-excited for what we’re calling Death Match 2013. Three judges will decide the fates of the news candidates. John Cantarella, Vivian Schiller and Andrew Rasiej.

For those unfamiliar with the names, John Cantarella leads Time, Inc’s digital efforts; Vivian Schiller was the CEO of NPR and now is NBC’s chief digital strategist, while Andrew Rasiej co-founded Personal Democracy Media, which produces the Personal Democracy Forum and TechPresident.

In an interesting sidenote, the emcee is Tony Conrad of True Ventures, who sold his pioneering related links startup Sphere to AOL.

Each company gets two minutes on Monday March 11, then four survive until Tuesday, where they’ll each get 5 minutes to explain how they plan to save journalism (whether it wants or needs saving).

The winner will be crowned on Tuesday evening. I’m not sure what the prizes are or if there are any, though I’m pretty sure the winner gets some big bragging rights and a year’s free subscription to Techmeme.

I’m excited to meet the folks running the other startups:

Audio Tag – The company looks to be finding a way to connect the audio in ads with a listener’s smartphone so the ad can be interactive.

Guide – These folks are figuring out how to turn your favorite online news sites into television – with what looks like a robot newscaster.

InfoActive – Data is getting easier to collect, but finding ways to display it in beautiful, infographic form to readers is labor-intensive. These folks are looking to solve that problem for publishers.

Meograph – This application helps news sites and educators tell stories visually with YouTube embeds, Google Earth images and links to relevant stories.

Phone2Action – I’m not exactly sure what these folks do, but the gist seems to be they create a phone-based platform so companies and causes can educate and mobilize their followers. They get bonus points for correctly using the word “effect” as a verb in their web copy.

ShoutAbout – It’s easily to rile readers up, but when they finish a story that enrages or engages them, it’s not always clear what to do with that energy. ShoutAbout lets readers suggest to one another ways to learn more and ways to take action, via an embeddable plugin. And since it’s readers, not the site, suggesting action, new sites don’t look like advocacy organs (even if they really are).

ShoutAbout Screenshot

Watchup – This iPad app lets you quickly curate a set of online videos to make a morning newscast geared towards your interests.

We’re looking forward to sharing the stage and duking it out with these folks. The last three months since I left my editor job at Wired have been awesome and a learning experience, and we’ll have a bunch of exciting announcements in the coming weeks.

We hope to see you all there at SXSW.

And finally, I need to give big thanks to Jennifer 8. Lee of Plympton, who pushed me to enter. You have checked out Plympton’s serialized novel service, right?

P.S. If you run a publication or blog — from the New York Times to a local blog focused on new restaurants in your city, we can turn your publication’s readers into loyal readers (or even customers). Drop us a line at or sign-up for the beta.

One thought on “Contextly Joins SXSW Interactive Accelerator Competition & Brawl

  1. Hey CONTEXTLY… I wanted to tell you what we (the folks at Phone2Action) do. We were fed up with the legislative process passing us by. So we wanted to make a difference.

    We make it SUPER easy for people to let their legislators know how they feel. People use our platform to send emails or make phone calls to their elected officials, advocating for what they believe.

    We are a SaaS business that licenses our service to groups with causes worth fighting for–non-profits, advocacy groups, and interest groups.

    See you in Austin!