I’ve been seeing a bunch of start up companies lately, and while I write more about trends and customers than promising early phase companies, I think each of these promising Web 2.0 start ups are worth a look because they show where social media is likely heading.
I attended the Echo.com launch at SFMOMA and walked in worried. When little companies pick big venues to announce new products, I think of bubbles bursting and steak-less sizzle. But, in this case, the room was filled and the presentations informative and at times understated. Founder, CEO Khris Loux told the companies story and aspiration in a straightforward way.
E2 is an open platform whose strategy is to partner with other Web 2.0 companies and big media. They provide extremely robust, complex technology that allows partners like Sports Illustrated, Newsweek and Reuters to create topical pages in which social media conversations are comfortable incorporated as are ads and user-generated content.
I had a feeling that this was a preview of coming attractions for what media will look like moving forward. It is a form of what I call braided journalism. More than that is proof that the conventional wisdom that traditional media is dead is wildly exagerated. It is in transition.
Last week I visited the folks at LiveFyre, where Jordan Kretchmer who stepped out of a nice job at Current TV to start the company about 18 months ago, walked me through where the company is and where it is going.
Like E2, LiveFyre is remixing where, when and how you see social networking commentary. Right now, LiveFyre is a plug in for WordPress bloggers. Livefyre picks up comments about your blog post in Twitter and Facebook and posts it into your comment stream. It allows you to follow puddles of topical conversation in one nice pond. Jordan shared with me that the company has more ambitious plans with new announcements to roll out in early spring.
But the idea is important. I don’t care if you use FedEx or UPS or whatever to send me that package. I care about the package. Likewise, I don’t really care if you joined a conversation on Twitter, Facebook or my blogstream. I just want to easily piece the whole conversation together.
The third startup, Pearltrees deals with an entirely different aspect of the social web as it builds out. I learned about it over coffee with Oliver Starr an old and interesting friend who has a talent for writing and lading in new and provocative companies.
Right now, most of us find our stuff online either by searching data [Google] or asking people [Yelp]. Pearltree takes a fresh approach, using the curation model, which I think is going to be a rising trend.
A curator, anyone who appreciates museums will tell you, selects and shows you the stuff that she or he thinks will most interest you. They take the time to find and exhibit diamonds in a world cluttered by coal.
At times, the internet can feel like one humongous coal yard. Pearltree lets you visual assemble people you know or people you trust and assemble them by any topic that interests you. I think the interface is a bit clumsy and the product needs to become much easier to understand and use–but they are still in beta.
I think curation is going to be important moving forward. Pearltrees has some distance to travel but it has a good head start over anyone else that I know about.
To push my precious mineral metaphor a step further, each of these three companies is a gem. Each can use some polishing, but what they offer shows great promise of a web that will allow us to find and use what we want easier and faster than is currently the case.