Social aggregation magazine Zite (our review) released an update to its application this morning that is a direct response to the Cease & Desist letters it received from news publishers after launching the application in late March.
The company also announced that it has a new CEO as Mark Johnson replaced founder Ali Davar as chief executive. Davar will step into the role of president “where he’ll lead the publisher relations team to explore innovations in publisher monetization,” according to a post on Zite’s blog.
Publishers had been unhappy with Zite after its debut because it stripped ads out of its aggregated content. The update to the application now shows articles from certain publications in “Web” format as opposed to its stripped down “reading format” hence preserving the ads.
UX Evolutions: News On iPad
In a post on his personal blog, new CEO Johnson says that his goals are to improve the quality of Zite’s recommendations, improve the sleek user interface and work with publishers on monetization strategies.
“I liken where Zite is to the early days of search: everyone loved search engines because they allowed us to sift through the rapidly growing web, even though most searches ended up in failure,” Johnson wrote. “Similarly, Zite’s personalization isn’t perfect, but we’ve made a breakthrough advance.”
Johnson has been an advisor to Zite (before it pivoted from “discovery engine” Worio) for two years before becoming the CEO today. He has worked with Microsoft on Bing and other search related startups such as Kosmix, SideStep and Powerset. From a technology perspective, Johnson is a good fit to be the CEO of Zite because the app uses its Worio search background as the basis for the iPad Magazine. Zite crawls content sources much the same way that a search engine would and returns results to the application interface. Zite also uses social media feeds to bring in content and has a recommendation engine similar to “music genome project” created by streaming music service Pandora.