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SANTA MONICA, California — A first of its kind, 24/7 internet-based news, entertainment, sports, and fashion photography sharing wire service called *newzcard officially launched on Wednesday in a way not many startups can boast about. They were one of three startups selected to present their platforms to the President of the United States.
Barack Obama spoke at a Cross Campus event in Santa Monica ahead of a three-day fundraising tour for the Democratic National Committee throughout Northern and Southern California. He appeared Thursday night at the home of Gwyneth Paltrow, leaving the Hollywood A-list actress at a loss for words.
“What an absolute honor to be able to do the first public demonstration of our product to the President of the United States. Surreal doesn’t even come close to describing it,” Justin Kahn said to Breitbart News. Kahn, a serial entrepreneur, is one of the co-founders of the digital photo newswire service. He presented along with *newzcard co-founder Steve Granitz, who oversees the operations of the company with Kahn. Granitz also co-founded WireImage and serves as President of the company’s West Coast operations.
Kahn said that the two men wanted to “preserve” the role of the professional photojournalist in the growing age and influence of the tech world. “Licensing rates have gone down. The professional photojournalist could become as obsolete as a travel agent, and we wanted to preserve that,” he said. “We can’t go the way of the music industry. We didn’t want to be reactive, we wanted to be proactive.”
The *newzcard photo wire service streams over 20,000 photos from photojournalists internationally on a 24/7 basis. They currently have a stock of over 40 million images featuring professional news, entertainment, sports, and fashion photos – and that number is constantly growing.
“We’ve created an ecosystem that provides support to the photographers, the consumers, the people in the photos, as well as the press,” Kahn said, telling Breitbart News that “we see it as a symbiotic relationship between all four.”
Both men said that Obama had asked them several questions about their startup and seemed active and engaged. They pointed to three main areas that stuck out to them that Obama focused on in his address to the Crowd Share audience, namely the increasingly active role millennials are playing in the tech world, net neutrality — a topic they said the room “really responded to”–, and the role of women in technology as a way to make them feel as though “it’s not a boys club,” Kahn said.
All the images are submitted raw, and *newzcard does not edit anything on them, except for when there are pictures of celebrities’ children. In October of 2013, Governor Jerry Brown signed a law that promises to protect the children of celebrities from the lens of the paparazzi and invasive photog tactics.
“We are a news wire service, so we don’t edit anything. As raw as it gets. The good, the bad and ugly is what goes on,” the men said.
The two other companies that were also selected to present in front of Obama were enervee (a startup that manages energy excesses for utility companies) and thrdPlace (an urban development platform that essentially localizes the role of government by bringing it to a community level).
Granitz, who has a background in photography, said he has photographed Presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and also Barack Obama when he was a Senator in Illinois. “Obama seems so genuine… When you met Ronald Reagan you knew he was president and Nixon especially.
“But Obama makes you feel at ease immediately. He walks in and you see your best friend; you’re not intimidated,” he said.
For Millennials, the entrepreneurial spirit is in their DNA. This week, the White House released a snapshot on what the economy looks like for the Millennial generation right now, and how this rising group of young Americans will use its unparalleled talent and drive to shape the economy in the next few years.
Yesterday in Los Angeles, President Obama spent some time with a few innovative members of the Millennial generation at Cross Campus -- a collaborative tech lab that brings inventors and investors together to pursue the next big idea that will continue to power our economic recovery.
"A lot of you entered the workforce during the worst recession since the Great Depression. And that makes it easy for cynics to write you off as some kind of 'lost generation,'" he said. "But I don’t buy that. Because when I travel around the country, I see the kind of energy, hope, and determination that you display here…"
"When I come to places like this, it inspires me and reminds me of why I am chronically optimistic about the future of America."
For all the challenges that this generations faces, the President pointed out that there’s good reason for hope:
Over the past 55 months, we’ve added about 10.3 million new jobs across America. And what we’ve seen is the longest uninterrupted stretch of private sector job growth in our history. And that’s why, for the first time in more than six years, the unemployment rate has now dropped below 6 percent. And today, we’re on pace for the strongest job growth since the 1990s. Interesting statistic. All told, over these last six years, the United States has put more people back to work than Japan, Europe, and every advanced economy combined, which gives us a sense of the kind of momentum that we could be building.
From doubling our production of clean energy to producing more cars to bringing more companies and jobs back to our shores, "there's a lot of good stuff happening," he said.
We’re coming out of this recession with the best-educated, the most diverse, the most digitally fluent generation of adults in American history. And we also have, as I said before, a shift where more women are now getting college degrees, getting higher degrees, and that’s part of what’s closing not only the pay gap but also the entrepreneurship gap all across the country.
"What we’re seeing here is the way that technology is changing not just how you do business, not just how you buy products, but also how you interact, how you organize politically, how you get involved in the community and how you solve problems. And all of that can support millions of new jobs."
But the President made clear that we can do better, especialy in helping improve wages for hardworking Americans. "The gains in the economy, not just over the last six years but really over the last 20, have more and more been going to the top of the economic pyramid," he said, while "the average middle-class person who's working to get into the middle class, they have not seen any meaningful increase in their wages and incomes."
There are things we could do right now -- increasing the minimum wage, which hasn’t increased in seven years. Making sure that fair pay laws are strong enough so that women are no longer making 77 cents for every dollar that a man is making. Making sure that we’re investing in infrastructure -- not just roads and bridges, but a smart grid to make sure that we’re -- our entire system is using energy more efficiently. Making sure that we are in the next generation of broadband and wireless so that there’s penetration not just in a place like Los Angeles, but in small rural communities that right now still feel excluded from this revolution that’s taking place.
Fixing up our airports -- if we changed our air traffic control system, it’s estimated that the airlines could save 30 percent on their fuel costs, just because they wouldn’t be circling -- and by the way, they’d be cutting time on delays, which means that customers get better service, ticket prices would be lower, and you wouldn’t be stuck paying exorbitant amounts of money for food at the kiosk that you really don’t need anyway.
"The only reason we’re not doing it right now is because we’ve got a Congress that has been spending a little bit too much time worrying about the next election and not enough time worrying about the next generation," the President said.
The good news is, is that despite some of the gridlock in Washington, we’re making progress. And when I come to places like this, it inspires me and reminds me of why I am chronically optimistic about the future of America.