New York Times to work alongside startup companies as part of new timeSpace initiative

The New York Times launched an initiative today aimed at refining and growing the businesses of new startup companies. Called timeSpace, the program will bring in three to five startup companies and give them the opportunity to work at the Times building and develop their products with the help of Times staffers.

Aron Pilhofer, editor of interactive news, said the goal is to create a mutually beneficial setup; the startups will benefit from working alongside and engaging with Times staffers, and both will benefit from the interaction.

“While we already maintain close relationships with entrepreneurs and the tech community, we believe that an on-site interaction for a set period of time has the potential to enhance the exchange of ideas,” said General Manager Denise Warren in an emailed statement.

The timeSpace site says it will not fund the startups, and tells applicants: “If you are pursuing business development deals, we may become one of your customers during or after your time here. But this is not the purpose of timeSpace.”

The timeSpace site describes ideal applicants this way:

You are an early stage company focused on the media space with a product launched. You are a small team based in New York or open to working from New York for the duration of the program. You have most likely raised at least seed stage funding. You may focus on mobile, social, video, advertising technology, analytics, ecommerce…

While some of the startups will be aimed at helping the Times’ business side, Pilhofer said he hopes at least one of them can work closely with his team in the newsroom.

“A lot of companies have good ideas, but they need a test to say, ‘Is this actually a viable media product?’ and I think we have this exceptional audience — this tech team based in the newsroom,” Pilhofer said by phone. SocialFlow and Chute, he said, produce the type of products the Times’ interactive team would want to collaborate on.

Other media companies have created similar initiatives in the past year: Philadelphia Media Network created a tech incubator with the help of Knight; Turner Broadcasting launched an incubator for startups in the media spaceKQED, PRX and the Knight Foundation launched a $2.5 million media incubator; and The Boston Globe is filling empty space by bringing in startup tech companies.

The Times is accepting applications for its timeSpace program through Tuesday, Feb. 19.

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  • Blackworld

    Hi Aron, your comment is insightful to further understanding this opportunity at NYT Timespace. Can you kindly take a quick look at and advice if you think our media startup has a good chance at Timespace?

    We are quite avante garde in our future outlook of how we plan to scale Blackworld as a global multicultural Media & Applications Platform. We are quite unique in the way we present video media, through our html5 utility the way we do. We also believe Connected TV is going to be very big! Our primary content and audience is US focused, with global penetration to scale our brand. However we currently operate from the UK and would love the opportunity to be part of your Timespace program in New York with NYT. You can drop me an email: robert at or reply your thoughts here if you prefer. Cheers!

  • Jose de Cabo

    It´s great to see that this type of initiatives are becoming a common practice on large organizations. Kudos to the Times! These initiatives can lead to great stories like the one we had with NY Daily News.

    Olapic, the company I co-founded, started a little bit over two years ago with help of NY Daily News. Steve Lynas, Head of Digital, and his team organized a competition where they invited NYC tech startups to pitch their ideas to NYDaily News execs. The prize was a potential partnership with the Daily News and have them as the first large client.

    My two confounders and I had just graduated from Columbia University, and we had been experimenting in the photo sharing space. We pitched them mockups of a platform that we did not have yet. We showed them how they could benefit from the photos that their readers were taking and sharing on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, and how they could start a visual communication with their audience right on their site.

    They liked the platform and they signed as the first client. It´s great to have your first large customer before you have the product build because it significantly reduces the risk of your venture. We spend 6 months building the platform with the input of the NY Daily News team. Two years have passed and we have grown Olapic from the 3 founders to a team of 25 brilliant team members. Olapic is a profitable business that is growing very rapidly as we help top brands around the world increase sales and site conversion with rich social media coming from their users.

  • Charlie Holbech

    It’s a great idea, and will certainly yield value as I can attest to. Over 2 years ago, Steve Lynas, SVP Digital at the New York Daily News invited Visual Revenue into their newsroom — and we embedded our operations there at the company’s inception.

    We had direct (unlimited) access to the online editorial team and we’re encouraged to participate in the online publishing processes that they go through, all whilst developing our platform. The insight and knowledge we gained from being embedded was priceless and the constructive criticism we received on our platform meant we were able to go from drawing board to market in six months.

    As the company has grown, we’ve been very fortunate to continue this with the Associated Press and have been on their newsroom floor for the last 18 months.

    We’re a fast-growing digital media company and we build real-time predictive technology that supports editors. So there’s no better experience than living every day among editors – it simply makes our product better!

    Disclaimer – NY Daily News is now a Visual Revenue customer

  • Peter Mullan

    It would be interesting to hear who developed this idea and who, in particular, will implement it. Along with Pilhofer’s interactive news department, is this simply the news staff, plus the marketing staff, plus the R&D Lab? Do reporters have useful, practical knowledge to share with start-ups? I trust Poynter will dig deeper into the brainpower behind this business, and what outside consultants the Times has brought on board.