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Upworthy co-founder, Maine native to deliver talk in Portland

Posted March 18, 2014, at 5:41 p.m.
Eli Pariser, co-founder of the wildly popular website Upworthy and a Lincolnville native, will deliver a talk at University of New England's Portland campus on April 4.
Courtesy of UNE
Eli Pariser, co-founder of the wildly popular website Upworthy and a Lincolnville native, will deliver a talk at University of New England's Portland campus on April 4.

PORTLAND, Maine — This Lincolnville native’s startup website focused on content with viral appeal, and became the fastest growing media site of all time. You’ll never believe what he said next!

Actually, Mainers who want to hear what Eli Pariser — co-founder of the ever-present social media mainstay Upworthy and a former executive of the high-profile liberal site MoveOn.org — has to say can simply plan to attend his talk on April 4 at University of New England’s Portland campus.

Upworthy’s now famous teaser headlines are often copied, parodied and tremendously successful in driving traffic. Business magazine Fast Company called Upworthy “the fastest growing media site in history” in an article published about 15 months after the site’s March 2012 launch.

Upworthy racked up about 8.7 million monthly viewers in its first six months, and soon pushed that number over 10 million.

The skyrocketing site has been criticized for having a liberal agenda, but with its popularity and prominence, also has attracted the fascination of media organizations trying to decode and replicate its secret to success.

Upworthy boasts its content as “Things that matter,” and focuses on inspiring stories about everyday people or new twists on conventional wisdom. Items which, as parodies often trumpet, “you’ll never believe.”

A current headline on the site, for example, reads: “ A young woman saw a huge problem in her community and did something no one else knew how to do.” To find out what, readers have to click, and Upworthy has gotten so good at drawing in readers it routinely cranks out 1-million-click pieces of viral fodder.

Pariser, who UNE describes as having been raised in Lincolnville, authored the New York Times bestseller “The Filter Bubble: What the Internet Is Hiding From You.”

His April 4 talk, at 4 p.m. in the school’s Ludcke Auditorium, is part of the annual Paul D. Merrill Business Ethics Lecture series. The event is free and open to the public, and will be followed by a reception at the UNE Art Gallery.

Pariser’s speech delivered as part of the popular TED talk series has garnered more than 2 million online views, and according to UNE, MoveOn.org grew tenfold during his seven years at its helm, collecting almost $120 million in small donations.

The university’s announcement Tuesday also noted that Pariser, who now lives in New York, has helped launch Avaaz.org, a political action site described by the school as “a global online movement with over 24 million members in every country on earth.”

 

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