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February 26 2014

22:22

January 23 2014

13:18
Settings Its Sights On Content Personalization, AOL To Acquire Gravity For $90.7M
tim armstrongAOL is announcing that it has reached a deal to acquire content personalization startup Gravity for an initial $83 million, with another $7.7 million paid out over the next two years. Gravity works with online publishers and brands to tailor their content based on the activity of each visitor. This can take the form of "Recommended For You" or "What You Missed"-type widgets, which is how we implemented Gravity on the TechCrunch site. But co-founder and CEO Amit Kapur (who, like the other Gravity founders, was a former MySpace executive) has laid out a broader vision in the past, suggesting that this personalization is "the future of content."
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November 16 2010

23:51

Twinterest: Gravity Analyzes Your Twitter Stream Tells You What You Love

A few weeks ago we hinted at some of the personalization tools that Los Angeles based startup Gravity would be unveiling. Today they’re launching Twinterest – a tool that creates an interest graph – a list of things you probably love – based only on looking at your twitter stream.

Gravity CEO Amit Kapur explained the product in detail in a guest post on TechCrunch today.

To use it go to Twinterest and authorize it to access your Twitter stream. You may find it does a pretty good job of suggesting things you like. Mine includes Virgin America, “slap fight” (no idea), Facebook, American Express (hah), Google Voice, Andy Rubin and Spotify. Also, Daniel Lyons, aka Fake Steve Jobs.

You can help Gravity refine your interests by re-categorizing or removing any interests that don’t quite fit. For now this is just for fun. In the future, tools like this can help show you more interesting content and ecommerce items.

Update: Oh! That’s the slap fight stuff. Very funny. Who doesn’t enjoy watching a slap fight, I guess.



23:40

The Future Will Be Personalized

When my partners and I joined MySpace, we were lucky enough to be at the leading edge of the social revolution that changed how we use the Internet. A new groundswell is coming, transforming the web once again: the personal revolution.

Information Overload

Today, we live in a world where we’re constantly overwhelmed by information. There are over 90M tweets per day, 34 hours of YouTube video uploaded every minute, and every Facebook user has an average of 130 friends who are becoming more and more active all the time. We also experience this with content farms flooding search results and with the thousands of articles available everyday on traditional websites like the New York Times and ESPN: of which only a handful appeal to each of our individual interests.

The rampant proliferation of information isn’t a new phenomenon. The signal-to-noise ratio on the web has fluctuated substantially as new technology to organize information has battled with new technology to create and distribute information.

Their Web: The Early Days of The Internet

In the early days, content was created and organized by professionals. At first, it was contained in networks like AOL, one of the pioneers of the Internet. As the Internet opened up, Yahoo! brilliantly organized the open web with Yahoo! Directory. But eventually the volume of the information overloaded even the directory, and search companies like Google introduced a better way to find content we were interested in. By understanding how sites linked to each other, Google applied new science to find a solution within the problem itself. It worked so well, every website is search engine optimized for this framework.

Our Web: Present Day

In 2003, user-generated content hit the mainstream via sites like MySpace and YouTube, and the volume of information being created increased dramatically.

“Every two days, we create as much information as we did up to 2003.” –Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google

Search engines weren’t designed to effectively organize this social and real-time data. So innovative companies like Facebook and Twitter created a social filter by empowering our friends and people we trust to organize information for us. This new filter has given us access to more and better information than we ever thought possible. Like search, it’s so effective, every website is socially optimized for this framework.

Many of you reading this are avid users of social technology. Like me, you’re probably beginning to experience information overload in your social streams. There’s great content there, but it’s getting increasingly difficult to find it. In engineering terms, the signal-to-noise ratio is dropping (or, as a corollary, the work-to-reward ratio is increasing). And, as more people become more active in the social and real-time web, the problem will only get worse.

Your Web: The Future

Imagine opening up any web page or application and being presented with an experience that’s entirely personalized to you. Go to ESPN.com and see stories about the sports you love and teams you follow featured on the top. Check your daily Groupon for deals that map to your interests. Receive updates from Foursquare about restaurants you’ll want to visit. This is where things are headed. It’s about shifting from you trying to find the right information to the right information finding you.

In the past, we lacked the data and the technology to make this type of personal experience a reality. But that’s changing quickly. The abundant social data that’s overwhelming our social streams not only presents a problem but the solution. Using natural language processing and semantic analysis to evaluate your tweets, status updates, like, shares, and check-ins, it’s possible to build a holistic understanding of who you are and what you’re interested in.

Once the web knows your interests, it can start to change… Any website or app can use knowledge of your interests in order to give you a personal experience.

Music followed a similar evolutionary path. Music discovery has grown from being curated by professionals (DJ’s, MTV) to being introduced socially (mixed tapes, playlists) to being organized around your personal interests (Pandora).

All of this doesn’t mean that editors go away or your friends’ referrals don’t matter. Rather, it’s a new lens focused entirely on you.

Building the Personal Web: Enter Gravity’s Interest Graph

Incredible academic and commercial research in the fields of natural language processing and semantic technology has built the groundwork for where we are today. Still we have a long way to go before the personal web is a reality. Gravity will be one of many companies working on the personal web in the coming years. Our platform will allow partners to personalize their experiences when a user connects to the service. The basis for our platform is what we call the Interest Graph, an online representation of your interests, including your strength of attachment and its trajectory over time.

To view your Interest Graph right now and help us tune our algorithms, we’d love for you to play Twinterest (gravity.com/labs) and send us feedback.

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Amit Kapur, the cofounder and CEO of Gravity.



March 30 2010

05:31

Former MySpace Exec Teams With Yahoo Rock Star For New Startup

MySpace’s former GM International Travis Katz left the company shortly after the big executive shakeout in the Spring of 2009.

He spent a few months in Hawaii recharging, and then moved his family to Silicon Valley. Since January he’s been working on a new startup, he says, and he’s teamed up with Ori Zaltzman, the former Chief Architect of Yahoo Boss.

That’s enough of a team to make things really interesting. Particuarly Zaltzman’s deep infrastructure background.

Katz isn’t saying what the new startup will do. When pressed he said “consumer Internet.” When pressed further he said “social infrastructure product.” He says he’s not saying anything else until the fundraising is closed.

“Fundraising? What VCs are you talking to?”

“No comment.”

Etc.

My goal is to find out all about the new startup, and share it with you, before Katz wants me to. But until then that’s all I’ve got.

This is now the third startup to spring from the loins of former MySpace execs.

Back in March 2009 a trio of MySpace execs – COO Amit Kapur, SVP Steve Pearman and SVP Jim Benedetto – left to begin working on a new startup called Gravity.

And MySpace cofounder and former CEO Chris DeWolfe recently unveiled MindJolt.

All look promising. Perhaps more promising than the company they left behind.



March 10 2010

07:11

More Talent Walks Out The Door At MySpace: Three Key Employees Go To Gravity

More bad news for an already bullet-riddled MySpace: three key employees have left the company to join Gravity, a cross-town startup founded by former MySpace COO Amit Kapur, SVP Steve Pearman and SVP Jim Benedetto.

We covered Gravity’s launch in December 2009.

The three MySpacer’s are Chief Software Architect Chris Bissell (we previously reported Bissell’s resignation), Chief Systems Architect Dan Farino and Development Manager Robbie Coleman.

None of these employees were recruited by Gravity, says our source. Perhaps because MySpace’s somewhat zealous legal department isn’t shy about engaging in the occasional turf war. But we’ve also heard that the best MySpace employees continue to head for the door, and companies that know which employees actually get things done aren’t going to turn away good people.

MySpace declined to comment on this story, other than to confirm that the three employees are no longer with the company. We await comment from Gravity.



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