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AT&T's CNN buys privacy-minded recommendations startup Canopy

Canopy's 15-person team more than doubles the number of people working on CNN's "NewsCo" project to build a platform for highly personalized news.

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CNN is owned by wireless giant AT&T through its WarnerMedia arm. 

Getty Images

Canopy, a privacy-focused recommendations startup, has been acquired by CNN, a unit of wireless giant AT&T through its WarnerMedia devision. Financial terms of the deal weren't disclosed. 

Built by Spotify, Instagram, Google and New York Times alumni, the startup is trying to figure out how algorithm-powered recommendations, like the kinds that suggest videos on YouTube or items in your Facebook feed, can be private by default and avoid being optimized for addiction.

Canopy was launched in 2018 and released its first recommendations app, Tonic, last year. The app recommended five personalized reads a day from the internet, using a technology known as differential privacy to keep its hands off users' data. The company will sunset Tonic as a result of the takeover.

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Tonic recommends five personalized reads a day. 

Tonic

CNN will bring on all 15 members of Canopy's team to support the news networks' group focused on "emerging products and platforms," which is developing a so-called "NewsCo" platform that is the group's first project. NewsCo, expected to launch within the year, is meant to be a platform that delivers users with highly personalized news and info. 

The Canopy staff will more than double the number of people working on NewsCo. 

"There has never been a more crucial time to help people discover trusted sources around topics and issues that matter most to them," Canopy founder and CEO Brian Whitman said in a statement. "We're incredibly excited to join the team at CNN to build some amazing products for their millions of global users."