October 23, 2014

Cornellian-Founded ‘Bit of News’ Keeps Students Updated

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Students have a new way to stay informed with “Bit of News” — a daily, Cornellian-developed service that summarizes news content and sends to one’s email inbox.

Xiao Xu ’15, founder and chief executive officer of Bit of News, said he created the service to help students keep up with the news in a “quick and painless manner.”

“In August 2013, I thought to myself, ‘It would be great if someone summarized the news every day and sent it to me,’” said Xu, who is a computer science major.

According to Xu, he and Curtis Wang ’16 — who is head of business development for Bit of News — research the most important daily news from leading publications such as The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal before they send a summarized list of news to subscribers around 7:30 a.m.

Xu said that with the service, users will be able to “consistently read” about the most important news stories happening that day.

“I think this is a great time for a company like Bit of News,” Xu said. “The traditional newspaper industry is dying, but I do not think the interest in news is decreasing.”

Xu also emphasized that one of Bit of News’ goals is to bring out the daily consistency of the old-fashioned newspaper in an email format.

In its initial stages, Bit of News was only available to Ivy League students, according to Xu. Focusing on a small piece of the market allowed the team to perfect the service while ensuring that there was a sizeable subscription base of highly motivated students, he said.

“It started out just being open to Ivy League students,” Xu said. “But we were receiving a lot of emails from other college students who wanted to join Bit of News, too.”

Xu added that there are many professionals in the fields of finance and technology who are also subscribed to Bit of News.

Bit of News — which has over 2.1 million reads and about 20,000 subscribers to date — is trying to expand to colleges and areas that have a dense market, according to Wang. The service already has college ambassadors who are spreading the word about Bit of News at universities such as Columbia University and Virginia Tech.

“We want to hit 100,000 subscribers by January,” Wang said. “We are really focused on growth at the moment, not making money.”

Xu and Wang — who said they are excited about the future of Bit of News — also said they are working tirelessly to expand the service so that it can reach as many college students as possible.

“My academics has taken a hit, but it is fine because I am doing something that I really love,” Xu said. “College students should subscribe to Bit of News if they have no time to read the news like me, but don’t want to seem ignorant.”