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Type of business Private
Type of site
News and entertainment
Available in English
Founded March 14, 2012; 4 years ago (2012-03-14)[1]
Headquarters New York City, New York, U.S.
Founder(s) Eli Pariser and Peter Koechley
CEO Eli Pariser
Key people Amy O'Leary, Sara Critchfield[2]
Slogan(s) Things That Matter. Pass 'Em On.
Website www.upworthy.com
Alexa rank Decrease 3,331 (Global, April 2016)
Advertising Native
Current status Active

Upworthy is a website for viral content started in March 2012 by Eli Pariser, the former executive director of MoveOn, and Peter Koechley, the former managing editor of The Onion. One of Facebook's co-founders, Chris Hughes, was an early investor.[3][4][5]

Upworthy's stated mission is to host the intersection of the "awesome", the "meaningful" and the "visual."[4] It uses virality to promote stories with a progressive bent on political and social issues.[6]


In June 2013, an article in Fast Company called Upworthy "the fastest growing media site of all time".[7]

In August 2013 Upworthy became the first "non-traditional" site to feature in NewsWhip's Top Ten Publisher Rankings, in fifth place.[8] By November 2013 they were the third most social publisher on Facebook, despite their low article count.[9]

Upworthy popularized a distinctive style of two-phrase headlines, which has spread to many other websites.[10] Examples of such Upworthy style headlines are:

  • "We Don't Hear Enough From Native American Voices. Here's An Inspiring Message From One."[11]
  • "Someone Gave Some Kids Some Scissors. Here's What Happened Next."[12]

It has been criticized for its use of overly sensationalized, emotionally manipulative, "clickbait" style, headlines as well as having a liberal bias, and simplifying issues that are controversial by nature.[6][13][14][15][16]

It was reported on 17 June 2015 that the business is to pivot by focusing on producing original content, rather than aggregating third party content. This pivot is resulting in six of its staff being laid off as well as new staff being hired, under the site's new Editorial Director, Amy O'Leary, who joined Upworthy from The New York Times in February, 2015.[17][18]


Upworthy has been through two rounds of funding. In October 2012 it raised $4 million from New Enterprise Associates and other angel investors, including BuzzFeed co-founder John Johnson, Facebook co-founder and New Republic owner Chris Hughes, and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.[19][20] In September 2013 it raised $8 million from investors Catamount Ventures, Spark Capital, Knight Foundation and Klee Irwin.[21]


Upworthy produces daily stories, which it deems to be meaningful and of high quality.[22] It aims to be “social media with a mission”.[22] It achieves this by promoting progressive and liberal points of view through its choice of articles, without being overtly partisan.[23] Upworthy does not necessarily strive to have a community of its own. There is no commenting on the site because Upworthy encourages its users to share its content in already existing social networks.

Their articles are rigorously tested for how effective they will be at getting clicked on. One way they do this is giving each article no fewer than 25 separate headlines, and then testing which attracts the most hits.[24] The Upworthy team monitors posts after they go live to see how they are tracking, sometimes altering headlines for posts that aren’t taking off.

"It’s the fault of people who do care about issues for not making them interesting," Koechley says. "Politics and social issues are boring and onerous. It’s our mission to take those issues and make them so funny, compelling, or interesting that you can’t look away."[25]

Upworthy has been criticized for writing content that slants heavily to the left of the political spectrum. Many of their articles offer a very opinionated viewpoint with no middle ground. However, their sensationalistic writing methods continue to draw millions of views per month.[26]


In November 2013 it hit a high of almost 18 million unique visitors for the month. However, in the first half of 2014 it had fallen to roughly 10–12 million unique visitors.[27] As of December 2014, Upworthy's mission statement says it engages a total of about 50 million people each month.[28]

As of October 2014 Upworthy’s YouTube channel has acquired 135,467 subscribers and 4,197.541 views.[29]


Upworthy has been labeled a "clickbait shop"; however, for two years Upworthy did not monetize clicks through display advertising. The company began making money in April 2014 with the announcement of Upworthy Collaborations.[30]

Upworthy Collaborations is a name given to Upworthy's advertising partnerships with corporations. It includes native ads, and articles that its advertising partners underwrite.[31][32] It is selective with the organisations it collaborates with and states that "We draw a line on greenwashing".[33] Upworthy states that it wishes to work with corporations who have a common mission and similar values. Peter Koechley said on the topic "We won’t take an ad from Exxon claiming to be good for the environment, but Skype claiming they help people communicate—that seems about right".[32][34] It has attracted prominent brands such as Unilever, Skype, CoverGirl and charities such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.[31][35][36][37]


Upworthy has held events to advertise itself as well as getting new ideas from the public about the new media and Internet.

  • 10 March 2014: Upworthy Co-Founder Eli Pariser discussed viral content and robots with New York Times columnist David Carr at SXSW.
  • 22 June 2013: NN13: 10 Secret Ways To Make Your Stuff Maybe Go Viral If You Are Really Lucky
  • 6 April 2013: The Title Of This Session Matters More Than My Talk


  1. ^ "UpWorthy.com WHOIS, DNS, & Domain Info - DomainTools". WHOIS. Retrieved 2016-07-23. 
  2. ^ "The woman behind Upworthy's viral explosion". Retrieved 16 October 2014. 
  3. ^ Carr, David (March 26, 2012), "New Site Wants to Make the Serious as Viral as the Shallow", The New York Times, retrieved April 11, 2012 
  4. ^ a b Pilkington, Ed (March 26, 2012), "New media gurus launch Upworthy – their 'super-basic' internet start-up", The Guardian, retrieved April 11, 2012 
  5. ^ Gannes, Liz (March 26, 2012), Viral With a Purpose? Upworthy Finds Serious Web Content Worth Sharing., AllThingsD, retrieved April 11, 2012 
  6. ^ a b "Viral Content with a Liberal Bent", The New York Times, retrieved March 12, 2014 
  7. ^ "How Upworthy Used Emotional Data To Become The Fastest Growing Media Site of All Time". Fast Company. Retrieved 6 July 2015. 
  8. ^ Corcoran, Liam. "Top Social Publishers August 2013: Sharing way up for all publishers, and BuzzFeed on Top". blog.newswhip.com. NewsWhip. Retrieved 23 October 2014. 
  9. ^ Corcoran, Liam. "Top Social Publishers 2013". blog.newswhip.com. NewsWhip. Retrieved 23 October 2014. 
  10. ^ "Why Are Upworthy Headlines Suddenly Everywhere?". The Atlantic. Retrieved 6 July 2015. 
  11. ^ "We Don't Hear Enough From Native American Voices. Here's An Inspiring Message From One.". Upworthy. Retrieved 6 July 2015. 
  12. ^ "Someone Gave Some Kids Some Scissors. Here's What Happened Next.". Upworthy. Retrieved 6 July 2015. 
  13. ^ James Ball. "Read this to find out how Upworthy's awful headlines changed the web". the Guardian. Retrieved 6 July 2015. 
  14. ^ "Create Your Own Overly Emotional, Click-Baiting Headline With the Upworthy Generator". AdWeek. Retrieved 6 July 2015. 
  15. ^ "Upworthy Used to Have Huge Traffic. What Happened Next Will Blow Your Mind". TechnologyTell. 2014-02-11. Retrieved 2014-06-16. 
  16. ^ Christopher Zara (11 December 2013). "The Rise Of Clickbait Spoilers: Bloggers Expose What's Behind Upworthy's Histrionic Headlines". International Business Times. Retrieved 6 July 2015. 
  17. ^ "New York Times' Amy O'Leary to join Upworthy as editorial director". capitalnewyork.com. Retrieved 17 July 2015. 
  18. ^ "Once the web's fastest growing aggregator, Upworthy pivots". capitalnewyork.com. Retrieved 6 July 2015. 
  19. ^ "Oct 16, 2012: Upworthy – Funding RoundVenture – CrunchBase". Retrieved 21 December 2014. 
  20. ^ "Upworthy Raises $4M for Aggregating Virals That Aren't Cat Videos – Liz Gannes – Media – AllThingsD". AllThingsD. Retrieved 21 December 2014. 
  21. ^ "Sep 16, 2013: Upworthy – Funding Round – Series A – CrunchBase". Retrieved 21 December 2014. 
  22. ^ a b "About Us". Upworthy: Things that matter. Pass 'em on. Retrieved 21 December 2014. 
  23. ^ Mackenzie Weinger. "The anti-politics of 'Upworthy'". POLITICO. Retrieved 21 December 2014. 
  24. ^ James Ball. "Read this to find out how Upworthy's awful headlines changed the web". the Guardian. Retrieved 21 December 2014. 
  25. ^ Burstein, David. "How Upworthy Makes Social Change Pop Online Like Cat Videos". Fast Company. Fast Company & Inc, Mansueto Ventures LLC. Retrieved 28 May 2015. 
  26. ^ "Upworthy — or, How we are losing the internet to lowest of low information young liberals". Le·gal In·sur·rec·tion. Retrieved 6 July 2015. 
  27. ^ Jeff Bercovici (23 June 2014). "A New Weapon In Upworthy's Unlikely War On Clickbait". Forbes. Retrieved 21 December 2014. 
  28. ^ "About Us". Upworthy: Things that matter. Pass 'em on. Retrieved 21 December 2014. 
  29. ^ "Upworthy". YouTube. Retrieved 21 December 2014. 
  30. ^ "Upworthy's Sponsored Posts Are Crushing Their Regular Editorial. Here's Why.". Retrieved 21 December 2014. 
  31. ^ a b "Upworthy Wants to Run Native Ads that Make You Feel Good – Special: Digital Conference – Advertising Age". 1 April 2014. Retrieved 21 December 2014. 
  32. ^ a b "Our Mission Is Huge. Here's How We're Building The... – Upworthy Insider". Upworthy Insider. Retrieved 21 December 2014. 
  33. ^ "About Paid Content". Upworthy: Things that matter. Pass 'em on. Retrieved 21 December 2014. 
  34. ^ "Viral Content With a Liberal Bent". The New York Times. 14 October 2013. 
  35. ^ "All 7 Billion". Upworthy: Things that matter. Pass 'em on. Retrieved 21 December 2014. 
  36. ^ Derek Thompson (14 November 2013). "Upworthy: I Thought This Website Was Crazy, but What Happened Next Changed Everything". The Atlantic. Retrieved 21 December 2014. 
  37. ^ "How Upworthy gets its branded content to outperform editorial". Digiday. Retrieved 21 December 2014.