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Circa news app goes silent ahead of “announcement”

The Circa News app as it appears on an Android tablet. (Photo: Circa/Handout)
The Circa News app as it appears on an Android tablet. (Photo: Circa/Handout)

Circa News, a mobile news and information application that has proven popular among journalists, stopped publishing on Monday ahead of a reported announcement by the company, fueling speculation of a possible acquisition or closure.

Last week, The Desk reported that Daily Dot Media had engaged in preliminary meet-and-greet discussions to explore the possibility of acquiring Circa in some form. Daily Dot Media is just one of several companies exploring the possibility of acquiring Circa since it was reported the mobile-focused news brand had failed to secure a new round of funding and was looking for a buyer.

On Monday, Capital New York media reporter Jeremy Barr tweeted that Circa was due to make an announcement “soon,” something he later attributed to someone named Anthony — likely Circa’s editor-in-chief Anthony De Rosa. Barr noted earlier that Circa had not published anything during the day, and the same remains true as of this post.

If it’s true that Circa and Daily Dot Media will soon join forces, both companies are doing a pretty good job keeping the news from leaking out. Several reporters who work for the Daily Dot website told The Desk they hadn’t heard anything about an announcement.

Nicholas White, the Daily Dot’s editor-in-chief who last week confirmed the meet-and-greet discussions, did not return a request for comment.

Some Circa users expressed disappointment at the likelihood of a shutdown, while others were upset that the app had simply left them — and everyone else — in the dark.

“I’m very disappointed in how Circa is handling the situation,” said Twitter user Tom Sheppard. “I thought they were more professional than to just leave users hanging.”

“Sad that Circa appears to be dead,” wrote another Twitter user. “It’s been my go-to news app since it came out.”

Since the app debuted three years ago, Circa has been trumpeted by journalists and media industry watchers as a glimpse into what the future of mobile media publishing might look like. Circa’s main strategy was to take complex stories published by other organizations and break them down into easily-digestible bite-sized news updates for consumption on mobile phones.

But the service’s mobile-only focus may have actually been a weak point. Until last year, Circa did not have an easy way to consume its reports on desktop computers, and when Circa finally did launch the standalone website, it simply copied the user experience from mobile.

Circa’s easy-to-digest format was also easily duplicatable. Since it launched in 2012, it has faced competition from similar apps and services crafted by legacy news organizations, including the New York Times’ NYTNow (originally a pay service that is now free to access) and Al Jazeera’s AJPlus.

There was also no clear indication as to how Circa would monetize its news platform. Mobile apps were freely downloadable without any premium or advertisement-supported options. Early on, there was speculation that Circa might try to license out its mobile technology platform, but there’s no indication the company ever seriously considered this option until it was seemingly too late.

Last month, Fortune’s Dan Primack reported that Circa informed its staff of two dozen that it was looking for a buyer after the company failed to secure a new round of funding. Matt Galligan, Circa’s chief executive, initially told staffers that there would not be any immediate layoffs, and speculated that any buyer would likely have to stipulate to bringing Circa’s staff on board.

“This is an acquisition process, and we’re talking with a number of interested parties,” Galligan reportedly said. “Our intent is to find the right partner to keep growing this idea.”

But with Circa’s app and social media feeds frozen in time, it seems less likely that the brand will continue the course if an acquisition is, in fact, going to be announced soon.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 11 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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