Justin and Ben Smith Tease Their Media Startup’s Name With an International Riddle

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Startup cofounders Justin Smith and Ben Smith have picked a name for their new venture, but they want to keep us guessing for now.

Justin Smith is former CEO of Bloomberg Media and unrelated to former BuzzFeed editor and New York Times columnist Ben Smith. Their startup, set to launch in the second half of this year, will serve an English-speaking audience and cover global news with an aim of competing with international outlets including The Associated Press and Reuters.

The Smiths have been tight-lipped on details about their company, which is seeking funding in tens of millions of dollars from big investors, per The New York Times. This week, Justin Smith shared some new details in a sponsored Zoom interview, saying that the startup’s name will be a word that is the same in dozens of languages. Options can range from soup to taxi.

The idea is to recruit English-speaking journalists from countries such as India and Singapore to cover the news. According to Justin Smith on the call, having news outlets based in major hubs, from New York to London, and then dispatching reporters to foreign countries is the old way of news. “The era of the foreign correspondent is over,” he declared on the call.

“The idea that you send some well-educated young graduate from the Ivy League to Mumbai to tell us about what’s going on in Mumbai in 2022 is sort of insane,” he said.

This week, the duo also announced that they hired Reuters editor Gina Chua to serve as their executive editor. Ben Smith was hired away from BuzzFeed to be The Times’ media columnist in 2020. Justin Smith stepped down from Bloomberg in January.

The startup will include a digital publishing outlet, newsletters, podcasts, live business events and a video component, launching in the U.S. and at least one other international market.