Splice 100: Our crazy plan to catalyze a generation of media startups in Asia.

Splice and Civil Media are starting a $1 million fund to help create 100 media startups in 3 years. We need your help.

By Alan Soon
A robust media ecosystem needs credible, diverse startups with integrity and energy. Image: Shutterstock Illustration: Rishad Patel
A robust media ecosystem needs credible, diverse startups with integrity and energy. Image: Shutterstock Illustration: Rishad Patel

In our work as consultants, trainers, and reporters in Asia, we’ve become increasingly concerned about the anemic growth of media startups in the region. Given the big opportunities accorded by cheaper, more accessible technology, we find it baffling that Asia lacks a robust ecosystem around media startups.

Journalism isn’t broken. But technology has fundamentally changed traditional business models, content production, and its distribution.

We believe we’re in a golden age of media.

We now have the capability to connect with our audiences on more platforms than ever. We can target them with the content they want. We can also create new value that opens the door to more diversified revenue streams.

In Asia, this promise is still unfulfilled. With the size of our data-connected audiences, we should be swimming in new opportunities for media entrepreneurs.

The dream

We have an audacious dream. We want to help drive the creation of 100 media startups in Asia over the next 3 years. We want to do this by training, consulting, and funding.

And we can’t do it alone.

Today, we’re going to take a stab at solving this with The Civil Media Company, which is deploying blockchain and cryptoeconomics to help build a sustainable ecosystem for journalism around the world.

Splice and Civil will create a $1 million fund to catalyze the growth of media startups in Asia. Splice will manage this fund and make pre-seed, micro-investments to help entrepreneurs take their ideas to prototype stage, and with the support of this network and community, even further.

We’ll take a broad definition of the media equation.

Entrepreneurship is needed across the this new media stack — publishing, advertising, data, identities, privacy, and membership.

We’ll have more details in the next few weeks on how we’ll assess ideas and how we’ll make this happen across the region. We don’t have all the pieces together, but we would love to hear from you on what you’d like to see and how you think we should approach delivering this dream. If you have an idea you’re ready to talk about, get in touch on this form.


We’re also proud to announce that our Splice website will run on the Civil protocol. This “fingerprints” our content to both the individual author and the newsroom itself, providing authentication and eventual licensing opportunities.

Splice will also plug into the growing Civil ecosystem, allowing new network opportunities such as content sharing, collaborations, and audience discovery.

Are you as excited as we are? We’d love to hear from you. And if you want to find out more about what Civil Media is doing, read this backgrounder or join their Telegram group.

In the meantime, check out the write ups about Splice 100 in Nieman Lab, TechCrunch, and Mumbrella.

— Alan Soon & Rishad Patel



Why is Splice doing this?

  • Asia’s media industry isn’t driving the creation of startups in this space to transform journalism
  • This industry needs fresh ideas to address the changing forms of content creation, its discovery, and distribution
  • Journalists and first-time entrepreneurs need a vision — and a roadmap based on best practices for building transformative services and products
  • We believe that we need responsibility-based approach to media design
  • A robust media ecosystem needs credible, diverse startups with integrity and energy

Why is The Civil Media Company doing this?

  • Civil’s mission is to power independent, sustainable journalism throughout the world, and that means a robust and rapid approach to access and support mission-aligned journalism startups throughout Asia
  • Civil sees in Splice an expert in the region as well as sustainable journalism models, and therefore proud and excited to support Splice’s efforts to launch 100 startups throughout Asia, if only to help Civil learn about the complexities and opportunities involved
  • Civil is also keen to help startups in the Splice 100 program to understand the advantages of a decentralized network, and how it contrasts with the current, top-heavy ownership models that dominate the media industry. It will also provide hands-on support for Newsrooms from this program that opt to join Civil.

Hang on, even with $1 million, there isn’t much money for each startup. So why bother?

The goal is to get ideas to prototype. That’s the part we’re trying to solve — to get people to take a step forward. It’s a quick way to move things along. Some people need a bit of cash to take that first step. That’s the top-of-funnel we’re trying to solve. If we can help people get their ideas to a prototype, we would have nudged things forward. But first, we need proofs of concept. 

And what do you mean by “prototype”?

Depends on what you’re trying to build as a business. It could be a site, an app, a dashboard. Something you can use to demonstrate or validate an idea.

Why is Splice getting behind blockchain?

To be honest, we’re not making a bet on blockchain per se. We don’t know enough about where this technology is headed, and more importantly, we aren’t fully convinced that there is a unique problem with media that only blockchain can solve. At least not yet.

We do however see an incredible opportunity to reconsider the structural problems with media and inject it with a newfound fervor that blockchain is helping to drive. You don’t often come across a new technology that could fundamentally change the way transactions are done.

Every conversation about transforming media is an opportunity to test new ideas. As an industry, we would be doomed if we decided not to try anything new.

We also believe this is a chance to drive a responsibility-based approach to media, as well as to find ways to define and enforce ethical journalism alongside Civil.

This is one of many bets we’re making to ensure that Splice is part of that conversation around the transformation of media. It gets us a seat at the table of something powerful. And if the tokens make us money, great. But if they don’t, we would still want to get behind this anyway.

Alan Soon

Co-Founder, CEO of The Splice Newsroom. Covering the business of media transformation in Asia. Follow Alan Soon on Twitter.

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