Next from the Lerer dynasty: animal news site The Dodo

Faith Merino · January 14, 2014 · Short URL:

The Dodo launches with $2 million in seed funding from Lerer Ventures

If you’ve been anywhere near the Internet over the last week or so, you’ve probably seen the video of dogs trying to go through narrow doorways and other openings with large sticks. It’s hilarious, obvs. Thing is, if you look it up, there have been like, 15 million dog/stick/doorway videos that have gone viral over the last seven or eight years. Because people love dogs/sticks/doorways.

No. People love animals, especially when they do silly, adorable things.

So it makes perfect sense for someone to just create a site that’s all about animals, which is more or less what Isabel Lerer’s new site The Dodo does. But a closer look reveals that this site is much more than just cute animal videos.

Launched late Monday with $2 million in seed funding from Lerer Ventures, The Dodo is a news site that goes beyond silly animal videos to produce content that takes deep dives into animal rights, animal welfare, animal psychology, human-animal interaction, and more…with the occasional adorable animal video thrown in for good measure.

The site features articles with titles like “As Blackfish Soars, Will Seaworld Sink?” and “12 Hours to Help Stranded Whales in New Zealand.” While the site isn’t exactly an activist media site (no pictures of de-beaked chickens), it’s definitely targeting the average person who likes animals and cares about their wellbeing.

The site comes from a rich lineage of successful content/media companies, as Izzie Lerer’s father, Ken Lerer, is the co-founder and Chairman of BuzzFeed, as well as the co-founder of The Huffington Post. The Lerers know how to do media startups right.

To drive home The Dodo’s focus on solid content, it lured away Kerry Lauerman—former Editor-in-Chief Kerry Lauerman—to become the site’s CEO and Editor-in-Chief. Izzie Lerer remains the Editor at Large as she finishes up her Ph.D. in Philosophy at Columbia.

But without a prominent focus on funny cat videos, will The Dodo appeal to everyday Web users? It seems likely when a documentary like Blackfish has inspired so much fervor among viewers that it has resulted in boycotts of marine parks around the world, prompted several bands and musicians to cancel their shows at SeaWorld (Willie Nelson, The Bare Naked Ladies, Trisha Yearwood, Heart, and Cheap Trick, among others), spurred a protest of the SeaWorld float at the New Year’s Day Rose Parade, and even caused filmmakers to make a change to Disney’s upcoming Finding Nemo sequel.

So why “The Dodo”? According to the site:

“We're resurrecting the dodo -- a mysterious bird we drove into extinction nearly 400 years ago -- to remind us of just how great our impact on animals is, and to inspire us to get it right this time.”


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