Former Microsoft executive vice president of Artificial Intelligence and Research Harry Shum (Shen Xiangyang) has been appointed chairman of the board of the Silicon Valley startup News Break, the company announced today in a press release.
Based in Mountain View, California, News Break was founded in 2015 by Jeff Zheng, a former Yahoo executive and serial entrepreneur, with Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang as chief advisor. As the world’s first intelligent local news platform, News Break boasts 10 million daily active users and 23 million monthly users. With a growing network of over 10,000 content providers, it now covers over 20,000 local communities throughout the US.
The company’s mission is to provide relevant, hyper-local news and information that informs and improves users’ daily lives. By forging close partnerships with thousands of local publishers and businesses around the country, they hope to connect and empower local users, local content creators, and local businesses at scale and help a new generation of readers find and engage with locally published content.
“Harry and I both recognize that while people think globally, they live their lives locally,” said Zheng in the press release, adding he believes Shum’s expertise and technical leadership experience can help grow News Break into the world’s top intelligent local news platform.
“By creating an intelligent news platform centered around local communities, News Break is transforming how news and information is published and shared and further bringing people and communities together,” said Shum, “I’m excited not just about their achievements but also the great potential News Break represents.”
Shum is an IEEE and ACM Fellow whose academic work focuses on computer graphics and computer vision and has been presented extensively in journals and at international conferences. As the former head of Microsoft AI, he was responsible for driving the company’s overall AI strategy and forward-looking research and development efforts spanning infrastructure, services, as well as apps and agents such as Bing, Xiaoice, and Cortana.
News Break currently employs over 100 people, according to Geekwire, and competes with startups like SmartNews and news apps from major tech companies such as Google, Apple, and Microsoft.
Shum told Geekwire that News Break is planning to open an engineering center in the Seattle region as it expands its technical workforce.
The company is operated under Particle Media Inc., whose investors include IDG Capital, ZhenFund, and NetEase Capital, according to a 2017 South China Morning Post report.
Journalist: Yuan Yuan | Editor: Michael Sarazen