Circa failure


Mobile news app on diverse topics


Circa was a promising startup in the news sector that had the ambitious mission of ‘fixing’ what was wrong with journalism. More specifically, the product this San Francisco based company came up with was a news app that pushed notifications to the user’s phone and delivered digestible bit-sized news specifically for mobiles, at a time at which no news company had yet tried the model. The company offered ‘atomized’ news rather than a summary, which means they broke down the news to its core elements; stats, facts, media, and quotes. Links to different sources were also given so that users could read the full story. Users had also the option of following up on a story and receive updates for specific news.


United States
In 2011
By 2015
Number of Founders
Name of Founders
Arsenio Santos, Ben Huh, Matt Galligan
Number of Employees
Between 11 And 50
Number of Funding Rounds
Total Funding Amount
Number of Investors
Precise Cause of Failure
Multiple Reasons
Business Outcome

Cause of Failure

Circa seems to have gone out of business because they suffered a financial breakdown. In an article titled “Farewell to Circa News” the company stated that producing high-quality news proved to be a costly endeavor and without the capital necessary to support further production they were unable to continue. The company found out that building a revenue stream would take time and only by having enough venture capital they would be able to sustain their operations.

Although their concept was new and innovative, it was quickly copied by giants in the news sector. Circa was unlikely to be able to compete with renowned prints staff nor with their advertising outreach.

Circa was deemed to fail exactly because of the model and strategy it had chosen. Since news were only digests of news they had no strong emotional pull. Users didn’t spend much time on Circa, even after they briefly opened the app, they would go back to the other social and engaging applications that could offer them not only near real-time news but also social interactions.

The company considered monetizing their site by introducing advertisements or charging a subscription for its product but they felt that these minor solutions wouldn’t have made a difference nor provide a high-quality experience to their users, so they decided against it.

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