Cory Booker's firm will aggregate news and goings-on in his district.



NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Newark Mayor Cory Booker, one of the most tech-savvy politicians in the U.S., is jumping into the tech startup world, co-founding social-video specialist Waywire.

The high-profile Democrat, who found innovative ways to reduce crime and improve education in his embattled New Jersey city, said in an interview that the idea for Waywire was born out of the need for communities to share local news and information using "their own voices."

"It's a new social stream for people to consume media and information," he said. "You could use your iPhone with the new app that we're creating to produce a video of what's happening in your neighborhood -- this video becomes part of your social stream."

Waywire, he added, could bring national and even international attention to pressing local issues, ranging from health care to police brutality. "I think it will be an empowerment tool to anybody, anywhere," he said.

Details on Waywire have not yet been revealed, although the startup will be aimed at members of the millennial generation born after 1980, and provide a mix of original, syndicated and community-created video content. A beta version of the site will be released during the next few weeks.

Booker was also keen to emphasize the non-partisan nature of the Waywire network. "This resonates with my own political beliefs that sometimes our nation is too concerned about left or right, and not enough about forward," he added, noting that millenials typically lack the ideological baggage of older generations.

The mayor will be contributing content to Waywire, discussing the challenges facing America with as-yet unspecified "thought leaders" from a range of backgrounds.

Booker, however, will not be involved in the startup's day-to-day management, and will have no editorial involvement in the network. The politician's ownership stake will be maintained in a blind trust while he remains in public office.

Booker isn't the only heavy hitter behind the startup. On Monday, the company announced the closure of a $1.75 million seed capital funding led by First Round Capital and Innovation Endeavors, the venture capital firm co-founded by Google(:GOOG). First Round Capital also backs Wikia, the community-based startup set up by Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales.

In addition to Booker, the other Waywire co-founders include the company's CEO, Nathan Richardson, who is the former CEO of ContextNext Media and General Manager of Yahoo! Finance. Another Yahoo!(:YHOO) veteran, Sarah Ross, is also a co-founder.

The founders are touting the startup as a "social artery." Richardson, for example, says Waywire will bring together a range of content from different sources. "We will be aggregating and curating what we believe is relevant," he told TheStreet. "We will pair that with user-generated content."

Booker himself is an avid user of social media, maintaining a constant dialogue with constituents via Twitter. Famously, after Newark was pounded by a snowstorm in 2010, he rushed around the city to dig people out, responding to their requests for help via the social network.

"I love social media because it's a powerful tool in my tool box for serving my residents," he said. "It would take me days and days to physically meet thousands of my residents -- now they can meet with me in a few wiggles of their thumbs."

--Written by James Rogers in New York.

Follow @jamesjrogers

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