My friend Matt McCall, the guru of Chicago early-stage investing for Draper Fisher Jurvetson/Portage Ventures, just posted an interesting piece on Web 2.0 and searching, and how people are beginning to become overwhelmed with information.
I concur wholeheartedly with his sentiment:
People are eagerly embracing the next wave of the internet and the self-expression it brings. However, they are also crying out for better solutions to help them find what they want, when they want it. There are going to be significant opportunities for companies that can bring intelligence and relevance back to the search process. It looks like Pandora’s Box has been opened.
One of the underlying principles of Web 2.0 is (obviously) “collective intelligence”, or wisdom of the masses. The idea here being, of course, that if enough people find certain content to be of “value”, then it will “bubble up” through the blogosphere. While it doesn’t always work as envisioned (e.g. the recent “Tammy Nyp” hoax that ran rampant through the blogosphere), it generally does a decent job over time.
The problem is the “time” component. It can often take a substantial amount of time in order for content to either bubble up or fall off the edges. While their infrastructure is apparently propped up with bailing wire and bubble gun, I do like the way Technorati’s rankings are designed, at least in theory. The downside to having a focus on what is “happening now” is that the user can sometimes lose visibility into value-added content that is only a few weeks or months old.
Nevertheless, his point remains. Niche search plays are beginning to garner a lot of attention from investors, and with good cause.
Matt mentions a couple of interesting plays in his post (Pandora and Riya). Another great play on the horizon is podscope.com – they offer the ability to search for spoken words through the universe of podcasts (both audio and video). Not fully indexed yet, but it has promise.
As with many of these niche search plays (including deep web searches), the exit strategy for investors most often involves Google … not sure if that is good or bad, but it seems to be the reality of things.
Link to Matt’s post: http://www.vcconfidential.com/2006/03/pandoras_box.html
– Scott Burkett