Based in San Francisco, Chute was launched in early 2011 by Gregarious Narain and Ranvir Gujral. The company now employs 18 staff members with a mission to help build and power the best media apps for publishers.
Among its products is SlideChute, an interactive user-generated service that allows publishers to add photos to their websites. Gujral said users can log in and drag-and-drop photos to the publisher’s page, or they can import photos from social media outlets such as Facebook and Instagram. Then, publishers can display those photos using Chute’s infrastructure in a photostream, just by adding some basic code to the page. Galleries can be customized and moderated. When users log in, publishers are also able to collect data, such as names and email addresses.
Users can also upload photos via a hashtag on Twitter. Gujral said NBC News used this service during the 2012 London Olympics as a way to share photos in a slideshow. Chute also created electiongrams.com for NBC as a way for users to share election photos from Instagram by using a designated hashtag.
Gujral said users can also send photos through email and with native integration by adding an app.
Though still a young company, Chute is beginning to ramp up, with more publishers and media outlets learning about its services thanks to old-fashioned word of mouth. In addition to NBC News, Chute has partnered with The Huffington Post and Condé Nast.
“There is a demand for this kind of content,” Gujral said. “This digital revolution is so remarkable, but how do you organize it? It’s an avalanche of content.”
Recently, Chute received an investment from Knight Foundation via its Knight Enterprise Fund, a new and early-stage for-profit venture fund dedicated to the advancement of media innovation. Gujral said he couldn’t disclose the amount received, but he said he hopes having Knight’s endorsement and strong brand behind the company will open more doors for the company to work with new publishers. Gujral said the funding will be used for product development and to hire more staff to “beef up its infrastructure.”
“Newsrooms are shrinking,” he said. “Part of what we’re doing is creating new technology with storytelling by visually weaving it into editorial.” Gujral said, eventually, the company will also provide analytics to publishers.
He said using Chute creates an easier workflow for publishers and makes it more comfortable for consumers, although he admits, “Rights will be an issue,” as seen recently with Instagram’s private policy debate.
Nevertheless, Gujral said user-generated content and citizen journalism will continue to be on the rise. “News gets broken on Twitter … you’ll find the first photo taken on Instagram before it shows up on Getty or the AP … They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Imagine what that would be like with a thousand pictures.”