The idea for Flipboard was to take Web content and repackage it to look and feel like a personalized magazine. Users could pick their favorite online sources, and then we'd create a magazine, using algorithms and editors to curate the material.
But we also wanted people to be able to flip through pages, which you can't do on a computer. Tablets were first talked about in the '90s--back then, I launched a startup called Paper Software. The goal was to make computers as simple as paper. But the technology was not advanced enough.
Fast-forward to 2009. I was thinking about Flipboard around the same time Apple was rumored to be working on a tablet. Perfect: a computer that acted like paper. So we bet everything on this mythical tablet. I met with venture capitalist John Doerr, who jokes that I came in with no product or device to ship it on. But he liked the idea that people would want personalized Web-based magazines and agreed that the iPad was going to be a big deal. He signed on, as did others, and I learned the importance of starting a company with a big idea.
A startup will take the same amount of energy to launch no matter what the idea. VCs want to fund world-changing ideas. We raised $100 million during our third round of financing, which closed in November. The story we told this time was that users want to curate their own magazines, and that we wanted to help them do that.
Since March 2013, when we introduced that capability, 5.5 million member-curated magazines have been shared with the world. So Flipboard's original story keeps evolving, but the vision is the same: Great content moves the world forward.
As told to Inc contributing writer, Liz Welch.