YouTube Founders Introduce New Magazine Project Called ‘Zeen’
April 9, 2012

YouTube Founders Introduce New Magazine Project Called ‘Zeen’

Brett Smith for

Magazines are back -- and YouTube founders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen are betting that everyone will want to get in on the resurgence. The pair´s AVOS Systems debuted a landing page this week for Zeen – which will allow for the creation and discovery of magazines.

The landing page at asks visitors to secure a username, and by extension an URL, for the upcoming service. After choosing a unique name, the website sends a confirmation email containing a link that must be clicked within 48 hours for future publishers to lock in their choice.

Clicking the confirmation link sends the user back to Zeen, where message appears that says, “We´re really excited to show you what we´ve been working on, and we´ll send you an email when it´s ready to go. In the meantime, we sent you an email to verify your email address. Please click on the link in the email so we know you´re you! Bye till then!”

In predicting what Zeen will look like, many are already making analogies to Instagram, the photography app. Instagram allows for the capture, editing, and sharing of pictures taken from a mobile device. The program´s faux-vintage, sun-streaked photos have become a social media staple in the 18 months since its release.

Many cite Instagram´s ease for sharing content across multiple social networks as the gold standard for services like Zeen to enable users to share content. Others mention Instagram´s ease of use as its hook. In writing about Zeen for PCMag, David Murphy said mobile apps like Instagram and the e-guide publishing app Snapguide “are finding success by allowing users to create and deliver content in a visually pleasing fashion.”

The debut of Zeen is the latest news that magazines, as a format, are not dead. Five publishers, Time Inc., Condé Nast, Hearst Corp., News Corp. and Meredith Corp., jointly released a mobile app last week called Next Issue that gives subscribers access to 32 nationally circulated magazines. Print versions of the glossy publication are also making a comeback with magazine launches outpacing closures by a four-to-one margin, according to

Next Issue is currently an Android tablet app that unites a variety of magazines under one umbrella. For a monthly fee, subscribers can choose their level of access, from single publication subscriptions to unlimited access for all of the publishers´ titles. The collective fortune of these publishers and their magazines is real simple–they must to bring content to people who own the iPad. The company´s official website says that Next Issue is coming to iPad soon.

These developments are a stark contrast to the critical condition of the magazine format of a few years ago. From 2007 to 2009, magazines were folding at a year of over 700 a year. This precipitous fall appears to be slowing or possibly reversing according to the data.

In the final quarter of 2011, 54 new magazines were launched and 24 magazines were closed.  This year´s 52 magazine launches and 12 closures include efforts from both digital-only small publications and magazines like HGTV Magazine from publishing giant Hearst and Scripps Networks.