Local News Curation App NewsBreak Backed by Chinese Venture Capital Funds

News Break

An investigation by The Tennessee Star uncovered that the major backers of NewsBreak, an application that curates local news stories, are heavily backed by venture capital funds from communist China.

As reported in 2021, NewsBreak’s parent company is Particle Media.

Venture capital reports from dealroom.co show that in 2017, Particle Media raised $6.2 million in Series B funding from three venture capital firms based in China: IDG Capital, ZhenFund, and NetEase Capital.

ZhenFund was founded “in collaboration with” Sequoia Capital China.

Sequoia Capital, whose affiliated groups donated millions to Democrats and establishment Republicans alike, has faced scrutiny for influencing American politics while heavily invested in Chinese companies.

In 2021, California-based Francisco Partners, a technology investing titan, joined IDG for another round of funding for NewsBreak to the tune of a combined $115 million.

All three firms are headquartered in Beijing and are heavily invested in other companies located mostly in China.

Between 2015 and 2016, the company raised $13 million from undisclosed investors.

NewsBreak was founded in 2015 by Chinese “media veteran” Jeff Zheng, who previously worked at Yahoo Labs in Beijing, where he “oversaw algorithm improvements in search, media, advertising and mobile,” according to TechCrunch. Yahoo Labs is Yahoo’s research arm.

The company, which uses artificial intelligence to aggregate left-leaning local news content and de-platformed The Star, is not transparent about its Chinese backing. However, it does acknowledge that it has offices in China.

“NewsBreak is the nation’s leading local news app, featuring thousands of trusted publishing partners and independent contributors,” according to its website. “Our company started in Mountain View, California in 2015, founded by computer scientist and former Yahoo executive, Dr. Jeff Zheng. Today, we have offices in Mountain View (HQ), Seattle, and New York, as well as support teams in Shanghai and Beijing.”

The Chinese-backed application’s reach is enormous. In 2020, it was the top news application by installations in the world, having been installed by 24,300,000 unique users.

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Pete D’Abrosca is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network. Follow Pete on X / Twitter.
Photo “NewsBreak Logo” by NewsBreak.




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