Storytelling Platform LifePosts Draws Backing From Zalaznick, Costolo, FCC Alums

Beliefnet founder Steve Waldman's startup offers collaborative forum for marking life milestones

A group of big-name media and digital investors—including Dick Costolo, Julius Genachowski, Jon Miller and Lauren Zalaznick—are backing LifePosts, a new collaborative storytelling platform for commemorating life's milestones.

The site, which quietly went live at the end of January, was founded by journalist-entrepreneur Steve Waldman, who also founded Beliefnet and was senior advisor to former FCC chairman Genachowski.

Waldman and his team are working to establish national and local partnerships in order to further the missions of the company, one of which is to supplement the withering resources of community journalism, a topic Waldman examined while he was at the FCC.

Also at the heart of LifePosts—which Waldman describes as a platform to "create, collaborate, share and preserve"—is the goal of helping family and friends corral content and social media to document memories, in effect deploying the cloud like an improved, more accessible attic. The platform offers both private and public settings so users may choose whether to keep their posts for personal use, or make them more of a public announcement.

LifePosts is pursuing numerous tracks for partnerships. Huffington Post is among its editorial partners. The startup also received a grant from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation to work with local news sites. LifePosts is building a WordPress plugin for local media, which as Waldman says will "hopefully help generate revenue streams for local media as well."

LifePosts is collaborating with other types of organizations, too, such as funeral homes and cemeteries on the memorial side, as well as educational institutions and houses of worship to help record other life moments.

The concept was partly inspired by Waldman's wife's experience as a funeral director. "She would come home and tell me amazing stories about people or families she's worked with and I would invariably say, 'Wow is there something I could read about this person?' and she'd say, 'No,' there's no death notice, no video," Waldman told B&C. "People are just vanishing without any official recording of their life story."

LifePosts investor and senior advisor Zalaznick, founder of The LZ Sunday Paper and media start up investor-advisor, is profiled in B&C's The Five Spot this week. She says LifePosts is the one start up she's been committed to since the beginning, working side-by-side with the founder. One reason for that is her deep roots with Waldman—the two met in middle school and were co-editors-in-chief of their high school newspaper.

"Early on I told her about the idea," Waldman says of Zalaznick. "She was one of first people who embraced it and invested in it and has been invaluable in helping to build it and charting the course. It's a blast to work with her this closely again ... She is just a dynamo, brilliant, amazing, a visionary."

Along with Zalaznick; Costolo, former CEO of Twitter; Miller, former president of AOL and News Corp Digital; and Genachowski; other investors include: Larry Hackett, former managing editor of People magazine; American Public Media; and Gary Ginsberg, executive VP, Time Warner. Ju-Don Roberts (previously of WashingtonPost.com and Beliefnet.com) is COO.

Waldman says even in the golden age of newspapers, the ability to capture someone's life was limited, given biases and the state of technology. Now is an "amazing moment" when "we're able to tell stories in vibrant, colorful multimedia ways," he says.

"Through all of human history, 108 billion people have lived on our Earth apparently and we know almost nothing about [most] of them. ... The norm of human history is almost everyone is forgotten," he says. "But we are about to go into an era where almost everyone can be remembered and the technology will make that possible."