SANTA MONICA, California — A first of its kind, 24/7 internet-based news, entertainment, sports, and fashion photography sharing wire service called *newzcard officially launched on Wednesday in a way not many startups can boast about. They were one of three startups selected to present their platforms to the President of the United States.
Barack Obama spoke at a Cross Campus event in Santa Monica ahead of a three-day fundraising tour for the Democratic National Committee throughout Northern and Southern California. He appeared Thursday night at the home of Gwyneth Paltrow, leaving the Hollywood A-list actress at a loss for words.
“What an absolute honor to be able to do the first public demonstration of our product to the President of the United States. Surreal doesn’t even come close to describing it,” Justin Kahn said to Breitbart News. Kahn, a serial entrepreneur, is one of the co-founders of the digital photo newswire service. He presented along with *newzcard co-founder Steve Granitz, who oversees the operations of the company with Kahn. Granitz also co-founded WireImage and serves as President of the company’s West Coast operations.
Kahn said that the two men wanted to “preserve” the role of the professional photojournalist in the growing age and influence of the tech world. “Licensing rates have gone down. The professional photojournalist could become as obsolete as a travel agent, and we wanted to preserve that,” he said. “We can’t go the way of the music industry. We didn’t want to be reactive, we wanted to be proactive.”
The *newzcard photo wire service streams over 20,000 photos from photojournalists internationally on a 24/7 basis. They currently have a stock of over 40 million images featuring professional news, entertainment, sports, and fashion photos – and that number is constantly growing.
“We’ve created an ecosystem that provides support to the photographers, the consumers, the people in the photos, as well as the press,” Kahn said, telling Breitbart News that “we see it as a symbiotic relationship between all four.”
Both men said that Obama had asked them several questions about their startup and seemed active and engaged. They pointed to three main areas that stuck out to them that Obama focused on in his address to the Crowd Share audience, namely the increasingly active role millennials are playing in the tech world, net neutrality — a topic they said the room “really responded to”–, and the role of women in technology as a way to make them feel as though “it’s not a boys club,” Kahn said.
All the images are submitted raw, and *newzcard does not edit anything on them, except for when there are pictures of celebrities’ children. In October of 2013, Governor Jerry Brown signed a law that promises to protect the children of celebrities from the lens of the paparazzi and invasive photog tactics.
“We are a news wire service, so we don’t edit anything. As raw as it gets. The good, the bad and ugly is what goes on,” the men said.
The two other companies that were also selected to present in front of Obama were enervee (a startup that manages energy excesses for utility companies) and thrdPlace (an urban development platform that essentially localizes the role of government by bringing it to a community level).
Granitz, who has a background in photography, said he has photographed Presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and also Barack Obama when he was a Senator in Illinois. “Obama seems so genuine… When you met Ronald Reagan you knew he was president and Nixon especially.
“But Obama makes you feel at ease immediately. He walks in and you see your best friend; you’re not intimidated,” he said.