Eli Pariser, a former executive director of MoveOn, and Peter Koechley, a former managing editor of The Onion, founded Upworthy in March 2012. Chris Hughes, a co-founder of Facebook, was an early investor. They each month reached 100MM people across the two platforms.
Despite having a modest number of articles, they were the third most social publication on Facebook by November 2013.
Since 2015, the website has placed a greater emphasis on creating original content rather than compiling content from other sources under the leadership of Amy O’Leary, its new editorial director (who joined the site from The New York Times in February 2015).
The Writers Guild of America, East, the union in question, has organised a number of internet “viral” news publishers.
There have been two investment rounds for Upworthy. It received $4 million in funding from New Enterprise Associates and other angel investors in October 2012, including Chris Hughes, the owner of the New Republic and co-founder of Facebook, John Johnson of BuzzFeed, Alexis Ohanian of Reddit, and Chris Hughes of Facebook.
Being a Better Human, Citizenship & Democracy, Culture, Identities, and Science & Technology are some of the subjects covered.
Over 80 million unique visitors came to Upworthy in November 2013, reaching a record high for the month. But by the beginning of 2014, it had decreased to about 20 million distinct visitors. According to Upworthy’s mission statement as of December 2014, the company engages a total of roughly 50 million people per month.
In October 2016, there were 157,370 subscribers and over 10 million views on Upworthy’s YouTube channel. The channel had 163,154 subscribers and over 14 million viewers as of October 2018.
With the launch of Upworthy Collaborations in April 2014, the business started to turn a profit. Upworthy still uses AdSense for conventional advertising as of 2016.
The moniker given to Upworthy’s advertising alliances with businesses is Upworthy Collaborations. It consists of native advertisements and sponsored articles from its advertising partners. It asserts that “We draw a line on greenwashing” and is careful about the organisations it works with.
According to Upworthy, it wants to collaborate with businesses that have a similar objective and set of values. We won’t accept an advertisement from Exxon claiming to be helpful for the environment, but a Skype advertisement claiming to help people communicate—that seems about right, according to Peter Koechley—is acceptable.
It has drawn well-known companies like Unilever, Skype, CoverGirl, and non-profit organisations like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.