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Inshorts plans to use AI to curate news feeds

News aggregator app Inshorts is adding an AI-based algorithm called Rapid60 that can automatically summarize a full-length news article to a 60-word news brief along with a headline to its platform, the Economic Times has reported. Inshorts CEO Azhar Iqubal told ET that human curation comes with a limitation on the number of articles they can produce. With the new feature, they can curate over one lakh articles per month. Currently, they curate 10,000 articles a month.

Rapid60 algorithm was being developed for around a year and it has been trained based on a database of more than half a million articles that have been summarized by Inshorts editors over the past five years. The top read stories will still be written by editors as they require attention, said Iqubal.

Siladitya adds: While we are yet to see the AI in action the premise seems simple enough. Unlike more esoteric AI newsroom projects where machines are supposed to replace reporters or copy editors, Rapid60 seems to designed to work with published content. Good news stories by design carry the most important information on top and summarising them via AI should not pose a major challenge. But what remains to be seen is if there will be a discernable gap in the quality between human-generated content and AI generated ones.

Cash flow and competition

Inshorts claimed to have become operationally profitable in November 2017, hitting a net revenue run rate of Rs 25 crore in 2017, as compared to Rs 3 crore in 2016. The success was largely attributed to advertising revenue, with the CEO claiming to have 200 ad clients onboard. The company is now targeting a net revenue run rate of Rs 100 crore in FY2018, with revenue coming in from branded partnerships and sponsored content. In 2016, Iqubal had said that Inshorts had no revenue model, and was running on VC money. A few days after that, the company signed partnerships with five e-commerce companies – Zomato, Bookmyshow, Tripigator, CarDekho and BikeDekho – to provide branded content for the app to maintain cash flow.

In 2017, the app raised funding of $5 million from Tiger Global Management, which has previously led two funding rounds for InShorts in 2015. InShorts directly competes with apps like DailyHunt, NewsByte, Magzter, NewsRepublic etc. Google offers its own news aggregator called newsstand. Dailyhunt announced the launch of Newzly, a news-in-brief app for Android users in January this year.

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