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Tech executive invests in digital news start-up launched by veteran D.C. journalists – CNBC

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A digital news start-up that’s being launched by veteran journalists received an investment from a top tech executive.

The start-up, expected to launch in the fall, is led in part by longtime National Geographic executive Mark Bauman. The endeavor has received funding from tech entrepreneur Brian Edelman who runs RAIN, a firm that specializes in helping companies develop voice technology software.

RAIN lists on its website tech companies it has worked with in the past such as Amazon, Google and Microsoft.

Bauman told CNBC in an interview on Friday that Edelman was part of a series A funding round worth over $10 million. The other investor in the company is International Media Investments, a fund based out of the United Arab Emirates with a portfolio that includes other media ventures including The National, Euronews and Sky News Arabia.

Edelman’s LinkedIn page says he’s CEO and founding partner at RAIN. His company’s website notes it has offices in New York, Utah and Washington state. Bauman told CNBC that Edelman himself has investments around the globe, with a focus on technology and new media. Bauman also noted Edelman has done some work in the Middle East.

Edelman’s investment in the company gives a glimpse into how some executives see value in digital news businesses that have seen growth over the past year.

At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, CNBC digital posted a record 115 million unique visitors in March 2020 alone. The New York Times reported last April that traffic to its news site grew by more than 50 percent, as did The Washington Post’s. Saudi Arabia is funding a yet to be announced digital news site.

Bauman referred all other questions about Edelman’s investment to the tech entrepreneur. An email to RAIN was not returned.

Axios first reported on the new venture and International Media Investments being part of the recent round of funding but did not have the detail on Edelman’s investment.

Bauman confirmed to CNBC that he will be the president and CEO of the yet to be officially named news outlet and Laura McGann, who had stints at Politico and, will take the lead on editorial. They will be reporting to board members Madhulika Sikka, David Ensor, Chris Isham, John Defterios and Alberto Fernandez. All of the board members have extensive experience in news and politics.

The job postings for the soon to be launched digital news business gives a glimpse into the topics readers will see on the site.

For instance, the company is hiring a reporter to cover China, with the goal of  “identifying the most important and interesting angles and issues, ranging from trade to territorial ambition; from climate change to the Belt & Road Initiative; and the many facets of the U.S.-China relationship,” according to the job posting.

A reporter covering politics and government “will be responsible for covering how existing shortcomings in the American political system and new attacks on it are posing a profound threat to the future of representative and responsive government in the United States.”

They also have a job for a misinformation reporter that will “cover the rise of misinformation, one of the most influential phenomena driving our public discourse and shaping our lives.”