TFT News

Early Stage

AI-Powered Business News Publishing and Broadcasting

Analytics

Raised to Date: Raised: $1,900

Aggregate Commitments $

Platform

Wefunder

Start Date

01/28/2021

Close Date

06/22/2021

Min. Goal

$50,000

Max. Goal

$107,000

Min. Investment

$100

Security Type

SAFE

Funding Type

RegCF

Series

Pre-Seed

Valuation Cap

$1,000,000

Discount Rate

10%

Rolling Commitments $

Status
Not Funded
Reporting Date

06/30/2021

Days Remaining
Not Funded
% of Min. Goal

4%

% of Max. Goal

2%

Likelihood of Max
Not Funded
Avg. Daily Raise

$13

Momentum
Not Funded
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Location

New York, New York

Industry

Media, Entertainment & Publishing

Tech Sector

MediaTech

Distribution Model

B2C

Margin

Medium

Capital Intensity

Low

Business Type

Growth

TFT News, with a valuation cap of $1 million, is raising crowdfunding on Wefunder. The company provides relevant news, reports, business analysis, and other news related to the economy, technology, and business. The service is powered by artificial intelligence and aims to serve the next-generation market leaders. Alfred Cardenas founded TFT News in September 2020. The proceeds of the current crowdfunding campaign, with a minimum target of $50,000 and a maximum target of $107,000, will be used for marketing, operations, and other unforeseen expenses. TFT News has over 23,000 registered users in four months. It has established partnerships with AFP and Reuters and has a 26% bounce rate.

Summary Profit and Loss Statement

Most Recent Year Prior Year

Revenue

$1,000

$0

COGS

$766

$0

Tax

$0

$0

 

 

Net Income

$-2,297

$0

Summary Balance Sheet

Most Recent Year Prior Year

Cash

$1,803

$0

Accounts Receivable

$0

$0

Total Assets

$1,803

$0

Short-Term Debt

$0

$0

Long-Term Debt

$0

$0

Total Liabilities

$0

$0

Financials as of: 01/28/2021
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Ratings KingsCrowd Startup Rating Methodology Article

Analyst Report Analyst Report Methodology Article

Synopsis

Americans’ distrust in traditional news media has been growing in recent years. Gallup polls show that — after a record low of 32% in 2016 — only 40% of Americans say they have a great deal or fair amount of trust and confidence in mass media. This represents a long-term trend. In 1976, 72% of Americans placed that level of trust in the mass media, and that number has gone down over time.

This decrease in public trust goes along with lessened consumer engagement with traditional media outlets. Part of this lessened engagement is due to the rise in various social media platforms like Facebook and YouTube. Consumers either get free coverage of news they would otherwise pay for, or see social media recaps from traditional media companies and are satisfied with those recaps. With the rise of the attention economy, users are far less willing to pay for news that has been made free through advertising.

The marketplace is full of companies that see the challenges faced by traditional news reporting and seek to leap ahead of the trend. One of these companies is TFT News. TFT uses artificial intelligence (AI) to make news, primarily focused on business analysis and the economy. AI-based news may sound like something out of science fiction, but recent advancements in AI capabilities and language processing make TFT’s nonhuman hosts strongly resemble traditional reporters in their output and capabilities, at a fraction of the expense of traditional broadcast news.

Since the company’s founding in September 2020, it has accumulated more than 23,000 registered users. The site also has a very low “bounce rate” of 35% — the term for the percentage of users that view only one page on a website and then leave, often indicating low engagement. TFT’s programming combines their AI-powered content production with content from media partners Reuters and Agence France-Presse.

TFT News’s current WeFunder raise has been rated a Neutral Deal by the KingsCrowd investment team.

Price

TFT News’ valuation is perhaps its most attractive selling point. TFT is offering a SAFE to investors with a company valuation of $1 million and a 10% conversion discount. Given the company’s extremely early stage and its lack of differentiation from competitors, $1 million is a reasonable valuation. When viewed in the broader landscape of startup investing in general, a valuation of $1 million is quite low and offers investors the chance for strong returns should the company do well. Thus, TFT News’ price score is its strongest across all five metrics.

Market

TFT is targeting a digital news market that is growing at a rapid pace. In the five years leading up to 2018, global news subscription numbers increased by 208%. In the United States, the Digital Newspapers & Magazine market is projected to reach a size of $15.287 billion in 2021 and grow at a CAGR of 3.4% to reach $17.47 billion by 2025. TFT’s business model supports multiple revenue streams, including content sponsorships, paid subscriptions for premium services, and licensing of TFT’s AI-powered content. These various streams could help the company in targeting multiple angles of the digital news market.

While the overall market opportunity is decent for TFT News, it’s important to consider how much of that market the startup can realistically capture. There are dozens of digital news companies already in existence, so TFT will be trying to grow in an already crowded space. Due to these factors, the company’s market score is rather low. 

Team

At present, TFT’s team remains small. TFT was founded by Alfred Cardenas, a serial startup founder who most recently obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance and Financial Management Services from AMA University, an online university in the Philippines. In the last few years, Cardenas has put together and worked with a number of startups in the Philippines, Singapore, and San Francisco (TFT is headquartered in New York City). While he has some experience building startups, he doesn’t have any notable background in AI or news reporting that would build investor confidence in TFT.

TFT’s newfound strategic advisor is Jared Schwartz. Schwartz is a news media producer, who hosts his own podcast — “The Itinerary,” which covers travel and airlines — and works on content development with Himalaya, an audio-based educational platform featuring courses from popular experts like Malcolm Gladwell. Schwartz holds a Bachelor of Science in Broadcast Journalism from Syracuse University and has held positions in prominent news organizations NBC and ESPN. His background appears mostly in sports content which, while certainly news- and business-adjacent, doesn’t appear highly relevant to TFT’s primary focus. It is possible that Schwartz is the first of several specialized content developers that will be brought on to focus on different fields — though such a setup might well go against TFT’s stated goal of cutting down on staff and production costs compared to traditional journalism.

Due to the very small team and Cardenas’s lack of relevant industry experience, the team score for TFT News is its lowest across all five metrics.

Differentiators

TFT has little to distinguish itself from competitors. It is far from the first company to employ AI-powered news anchors. That distinction goes to China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency, which launched its AI anchor in late 2018. TFT holds no patents for its software, nor is its chosen market one with a particularly high barrier to entry or capital intensity requirement. In fact, the digital news market is extremely crowded, with each company clamoring for consumer attention. 

Currently, TFT has two main networks — its general network which covers global business and financial news and its sports network. Neither of these networks are particularly unique in the broader news landscape. Additionally, TFT’s partnerships with Reuters and Agence France-Presse seem to indicate that some of the company’s actual news reporting is not original. The only real distinction TFT seems to bring is its nonhuman news anchor, and there’s little indication that this feature will be enough to drive interest and growth in the company. Therefore, TFT’s differentiators score is below average.

Performance

TFT has seen some early success in establishing a customer base in its first few months of operation. The company has secured 23,000 registered users on its website (note: registered does not mean subscribed). Its analytics are suggestive of increased user engagement over more prominent news sites — however the company has not existed long enough to tell if these early numbers will continue over time. Thus far the company has reported $1,000 in revenue. However, it is important to note that TFT is still quite young, and the company intends to use funds from this crowdfunding raise to move towards full monetization of its platform. Balancing its early traction with users against the lack of full financial performance, TFT News’ performance score is low.

Bearish Outlook

The rise of the internet has completely transformed the way we consume news, with distribution and consumption becoming instantaneous and cheap. Despite massive existing customer bases, traditional news media have struggled to adapt. Instead, many consumers have turned to 24/7 cable news channels and online subscription services.

TFT has correctly identified the problems such companies face — such as flighty consumer attention and resistance to paying for news — and has taken steps to compensate for these market trends. The question is whether recognition of trends and cost-cutting measures will be enough to break into a hugely competitive market. Garnering 23,000 website registrations in four months is notable, but website registrations are not a good metric to measure prolonged consumer engagement.

As the tumultuous news market continues to grapple with low public trust and ever-spiralling profit margins, TFT will need to double-down on its cost-cutting philosophy if it seeks to pull ahead. However, it will also need to do so without significantly sacrificing quality of news or alienating viewers with the “uncanny valley” effect of its human-like AI anchors. TFT will also need to fend off potential licensing challenges and is highly likely to see competing platforms with similar business models spring up in the years to come. These are a lot of challenges for a small and unproven team to tackle.

Bullish Outlook

AI can do some pretty incredible things, as we’ve seen in the past several years as machine learning has usurped human workers in a number of fields. Thanks to how cheap AI infrastructure is to manage — and how comparable it can be to human-made content — TFT seems to have adopted one of the most cost-effective ways to do news. As it expands into its premium subscription service and begins providing other offerings, the strengths of AI-powered content are likely to only increase.

As consumers increasingly provide fewer returns for media bureaus with massive investigatory staffs, TFT could comfortably position itself to provide a sliver of the market with reliable news coverage. The company may also secure a higher trust rating than human-made media, as AI-powered software lends the appearance of impartiality and anti-partisanship. Assuming the company’s early traction becomes a trend of elevated consumer engagement with the platform, it could see significant returns among all its revenue streams — though such returns are likely to take time, as TFT perfects its machine learning and program offerings.

Executive Summary

TFT News is employing the power of AI to shuck the massive news bureaus and investigative teams employed by traditional broadcast media, instead partnering with companies like Reuters to provide business analysis and news reports. Eventually, the company plans to offer premium content and accumulate revenue through multiple channels.

TFT’s valuation is extremely attractive, even for a four month-old company. However, the product is not terribly well-differentiated, while the team is young and not particularly experienced in the relevant industry spaces. The company is likely to face licensing issues as it relies on content from other providers to supplement its own content. It remains unclear just how much TFT’s shedding of traditional news apparatuses will force it to rely on other content producers, or whether its early traction with users will translate into prolonged and profitable engagement. Therefore, TFT News is a Neutral Deal.

For questions regarding the KingsCrowd staff pick or ratings for this company, please reach out to support@kingscrowd.com.

Analysis written by Benjamin Potts.

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TFT News on Wefunder
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Platform: Wefunder
Security Type: SAFE
Valuation: $1,000,000

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