News aggregator Wotnews shuts down


news Australian Internet news aggregator Wotnews has announced it will shut the site down to focus on its sister site WeAreHunted, potentially leaving site investor and multimillionaire Graeme Wood (pictured) out of pocket.

Originally named Plugger, Wotnews was set up by local web entrepreneur Stephen Phillips half a decade ago, with the aim of indexing Australian news articles in order to better deliver context and insight to Australian readers. Wood bought a 50 percent stake in the company in September 2008, as Australia’s web startup environment was beginning to pick up pace. At that stage, investment in local startups was a very rare event compared to today (with sizable investments currently taking place every month), and Wood’s investment in the company was seen as one sign that the local angel and seed investment market was beginning to take off again after the dot com crashes half a decade previously.

Subsequently, Plugger changed its name to Wotnews, after Wood’s However, much of its core proposition remained unchanged over the years, and it does not appear to have been experiencing growth or pursuing a substantial commercial model for some time.

“Wotnews will be closing down soon,” the startup wrote on its site last week. “We would like to thank everyone for their support of the site over the years.” The company behind Wotnews has renamed itself Hunted Media after its more successful site, music discovery engine We Are Hunted, and will move to New York City to continue working on its other projects. “All member data will be deleted when the site is shut down,” it wrote with respect to Wotnews.

Wood’s investment in Wotnews hasn’t been the only time the entrepreneur has invested in an online media company over the past few years. Last year he invested a substantial amount in online journalism outfit the Global Mail as a philanthropic investment.

It’s not a huge deal that Wotnews has shut down; the site has been basically vacated for years, with its development team successfully pivoting to focus on other, more lucrative properties. There isn’t much evidence that Wotnews ever made Wood or the site’s other investors any real money; it was a Web 2.0 play that had some promise but never really seemed to coalesce into a real point.

However, I wanted to cover its demise for two reasons.

Firstly, I still use it. I use Wotnews to get alerts whenever companies listed on the Australian Stock Exchange publish new statements. I daily get a sledload of emails from Wotnews relating to announcements that companies like Telstra, iiNet, Optus, UXC, Oakton, SMS Management & Technology and so on have made. Now I need to find a new service which does the same thing; so I am a disgruntled user who is annoyed by Wotnews shutting down. In addition, this isn’t the first time this has happened to me. In January 2009, a very similar service I had been using called shut down, as part of a mysterious deal with Wotnews. After that service shut down, I moved my ASX alerts needs to Wotnews as a replacement.

What I am saying here is that receiving email alerts on ASX notifications is a service which I continue to need and which I would personally pay a small fee each month for (say, $20). In my opinion, Wotnews could have commercialised this feature of its service alone on a subscription basis. I’m sure it has quite a large database of users using that service.

Secondly, I cover the demise of Wotnews to make the point that not all IT startups succeed. In fact, most of them fail, and it’s important to recognise that this is a legitimate part of the startup ecosystem. Wotnews should have probably been put to death a long time ago. It had some interesting ideas, but it didn’t work out, so it’s time for that team to move onto something else. It is just as important that IT media outlets such as Delimiter cover startup failure as it is that we cover startup success. Both are equal and necessary aspects of innovation in the technology sector.

Image credit: Graeme Wood


  1. bummer, I have been using that service since plugger.

    *shrug* I guess Google will have to do it for me now.

  2. sad to see it go a really usefull service, i used it to keep myself abreast of news about Australian road safety ( my sector) would love to know what services other folks are going to use in its place

  3. :( I loved Wotnews. Does anyone know of any similar news aggregator that I can change to? One that allows you to select companies/industries of interest specifically?

  4. Ugh your analysis is so negative… and boring. Some startups fail, some succeed? Really?

  5. The demise of Wotnews actually puts a dint in my business activities. After a couple of years of using this service, I had tweaked the search parameters so well that I was getting news from the far flung corners of the world on the mining and minerals processing industry sectors, so much more than just ASX annourcements. It would take days to weeks for the Australian “news media” (I use that term relucantly) to pick up on some of the items, if at all. I lament the fall of Wotnews. I have often wondered how exactly it had commercialised its offer but I had always assumed they had a working model. I would have happily taken a hit of advertising along with my free daily update. I think we are big enough to be able to filter the guf from the really content,

    In any case, sad to see Wotnews go but getting back to reality: where to now? Anyone? Any suggestions on which indepentent news aggregate service I should jump to now?

  6. Both Renai and the respondents reflect my amazement that wotnews has become extinct. It was so very useful, easy to follow up, and had very wide international range of publication coverage: extensive science, engineering, language, education, politics, investments, etc, all the things I seek. I always thought it was a gem and I also wondered from where they were getting their returns. It is well worth a subscription.

    Yes, where does one turn to for a replacement service?

  7. Like others commenting here, I too had been relying on content delivery from Wotnews. I live in the USA and find it difficult to get Aussie news on things I follow…mining companies, the Aboriginal Art market, footy and a few political figures. I too am looking for a good replacement to Wotnews. The ASX feed is a good idea however much of what was possible from Wotnews can’t be had from the ASX. I think its odd that a service as good as Wotnews didn’t have a money making business model. Oh well, it will be missed. We take a step backwards in keeping informed until something better comes along.

  8. I will miss it, I have tons of old bookmarks from this website and they are totally broken…. I mean they even removed the old stuff. Don;t put the new one… but let the old stuff stay for a while… :)

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