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PaidContent Founder Rafat Ali Launches Travel News Site Skift

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Rafat Ali, founder of paidContent, sold his company to The Guardian for roughly $12.5 million in 2008. Then he spent two years traveling the world, in a “quest for isolation after eight clamorous years.” Now, he has built “the homepage for the travel industry” to inform your travels.

Ali and co-founder Jason Clampet, who ran Frommers.com’s original content efforts, aim to disrupt the enormous travel industry with a site that offers a combination of original media content and data tools to users, especially business travelers.

As they explain on the Skift site, “Skift.com is our worldview on how broadly we look at travel, and it informs how we’re building the company…Whether it’s through news, insight, data, and services, we aim to be the pervasive brand when it comes to travel information.”

Calling it a “new breed of media company,” Ali compares the site to Politico, explaining that it is “designed to appeal to insiders as well as a large consumer base.” The site’s content will be a mix of pure aggregation, curation, licensed and original reporting.

Accompanying the site’s multi-targeted audience is a multi-pronged business model, as they aim to combine advertising, freemium and premium subscription models depending on the type of user.

They have raised a “mid-six figures” angel round from a number of high-profile investors, including Chris AhearnLuke BeattyGordon CrovitzCraig FormanJim FriedlichTom GlocerVishal GondalJason HirschhornPeter HoranAlan Meckler,Mohamed NanabhaySanjay ParthasarathyAmol SarvaChris Schroeder, and three additional investors, whose names were not disclosed.

The founders say they are currently building a team of editorial staff, developers and data and product heads.


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