The new front page of the Internet

🦄 Unicorner Startup of the Week:


✍️ Notes from the Editors

Tired of hitting paywalls? We've got just the startup for you! If Zette seems familiar to you, that’s because we covered the team’s pre-seed round a year ago. We first met Yehong at a Unicorner event in Los Angeles and we’ve been following her journey ever since.

Today, we’re excited to be exclusively covering Zette’s crowdfunding campaign launch, where Unicorner readers can get access to Zette’s private early-bird round on Wefunder until Friday. Keep reading to learn more!

- Arek and Ethan 🦄

The new front page of the Internet

Zette is transforming online content consumption by simplifying access, discovery, and sharing of news. It offers readers a pay-per-article model for paywalled content from a vast network of premium publications. With an AI-powered newsfeed, Zette curates articles tailored to individual interests, facilitating easy, legal sharing of paywalled articles (without resorting to screenshots, password sharing, emailing PDFs, or using incognito mode).

🔗 Check it out: zette.ai

💰 Business Model

Zette offers three subscription tiers at $9.99, $19.99, and $29.99. These tiers give readers 30, 60, and 90 credits respectively, with each credit corresponding to one paywalled article unlocked.

Zette also uses revenue share agreements with its network of 100+ publisher partners, ensuring that journalists are paid for all articles read through its platform.

📈 Traction and Fundraising

  • Raised $1.7 million over-subscribed Pre-Seed from Afore Capital, Halogen Ventures, Hyphen Capital, The Community Fund, MGV Capital Group, and notable angels from Twitter, Google, Airbnb, and Coinbase

  • Closed 100+ publisher deals including Forbes, New Scientist, Miami Herald, and Pulitzer-Prize-winning local news, with plans to add hundreds of additional outlets in the coming years across technology, business, finance, and culture

  • 50,000 registered readers with a 5x YoY growth rate

  • Fast Company’s “World Changing Ideas” Honoree, 1st place winner at Harvard Alumni Entrepreneurs Accelerator Demo Day, featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, Us Weekly, and more

👫 Founders

Zette CEO Yehong Zhu uniquely blends tech entrepreneurship with innovation in media.

Born to immigrant parents—a journalist and an engineer—she graduated from Harvard, excelled in journalism at Forbes, then thrived as a product manager at Twitter, launching software products to 300+ million users.

Zhu is a Forbes 30 Under 30 in Media honoree, a Top Woman in Media & Ad Tech Entrepreneur, and a Top 10 Innovator to Follow by Us Insider.

Mohammad Reza Samsami, Co-Founder, Zette AI

Mo leads AI research and product development at Zette with a notable background.

Holding an MA from MILA AI Institute and a BS from Sharif University, his achievements include a silver medal at the Iranian Informatics Olympiad, top 1% paper at ICLR 2024, and reinforcement learning research at ServiceNow.

Prior to Zette, Mo’s research spanned large language models, autonomous driving, and cryptocurrency trading.

Invest in Zette 🚀

Like what you’re reading about Zette? Bullish on the team and the product?

Unicorner readers get first look at Zette’s early-bird community round on Wefunder. If you want to join, you can head to Zette’s Wefunder page. All you have to do is sign up and choose an amount you’re comfortable investing—Wefunder takes care of the rest.

Early-bird investors are guaranteed better terms than public round investors (including a 10% discount on valuation). Don’t wait too long: Zette’s early-bird round closes this Friday at midnight. 👇

Sponsored content. Conduct your own research before making investment decisions.

💼 Opportunities

Want to stay updated on opportunities at Zette? Tell us a bit about what you’re looking for—we’ll find you a role that fits your profile.

🔮 Our Analysis

When we first discovered Zette, we were impressed by the vision and founder Yehong Zhu’s passion to make it a reality. As a journalistic organization ourselves, a lot of the challenges founder and CEO Yehong Zhu is hoping to address hit close to home—The internet is a double-edged sword, simultaneously improving discovery and increasing competition for attention. It presents new monetization opportunities but attracts more people vying for your share of the market.

For traditional news publishers, it starts with access. More people online has meant fewer physical newspaper subscriptions. In an effort to address this and follow readers, publishers have taken to online subscription models and ad-supported models. But no user wants advertisements, and no one wants to subscribe to multiple publications, forcing them to pick and choose between publishers. Zette’s credit-based business model addresses this in a unique manner, giving publishers their share while providing readers with a worthwhile experience. 

Zette’s next focus is on discovery. The company is using an AI-driven approach to bring content to users that they have a genuine interest in. With already 100+ publishers on the platform, Zette has the content. Compare this to current methods of news discovery—social media algorithms designed to make you click and leave angry comments. Zette is actually incentivized to give you the news you want to read.

The final arc is social. Current methods of engaging with news need improvement. Think of the unused comment space on first-party publishers’ websites or the engagement you can find on third-party social media sources. Zette hopes to centralize this, giving news an online forum for engagement.

We truly believe Zette is going places, earning the moniker “the new front page of the Internet”. We felt confident enough to rank it as our 2nd-best startup of 2023.

If you think Zette is the next unicorn, take advantage of its early-bird crowdfunding terms this week and invest starting at $250.

📚 Further Reading

Written by the editors

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Made with 💜 by the Unicorner team 🦄

Unicorner has been compensated by Zette for publicizing the offering of Zette’s crowdfunding round. Read the full 17(b) disclosure and our sponsored article methodology on our website.

Nothing in this email constitutes investment or legal advice. Readers should conduct their own research before making investment decisions.