Redeye VC

Josh Kopelman

Managing Director of First Round Capital.

espite being coastally challenged (currently living in Philadelphia), Josh has been an active entrepreneur and investor in the Internet industry since its commercialization. In 1992, while he was a student at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Josh co-founded Infonautics Corporation – an Internet information company. In 1996, Infonautics went public on the NASDAQ stock exchange.

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The Implicit Web

I’ve recently come to the conclusion that Web 2.0 no longer has any unique meaning.  It now means “any Internet-based company that has launched after 2004”. It is as useless a descriptor as “dot com” was.

Jason Calacanis today posted his attempt to define Web 3.0. Like Fred, I sure hope we can find a better name for it than 3.0. I also think that Jason’s proposed definition is incomplete. I believe that a big part of “what comes next” will center around the Implicit Web.  Since the Wikipedia entry on Implicit Web is pretty obtuse/complex, here’s what I mean by implicit web:


As people spend more time online and perform more of their activities online, they create a lot of data about themselves online. Netflix knows what movies I watch and like. Apple knows what music I purchase and listen to. Amazon knows what books I purchase and like. Evite knows what events/parties I’m going to. Tivo knows what TV shows I like. Opentable knows where I like to eat. Fandango knows what movies I go to. Ticketmaster knows what shows I’ve seen.


However, until now that data has existed in silos. There has been no easy way for me (as a user) to access and benefit from that data.  I think the Implicit Web will give users the ability to control the data in these silos and decide who and how it gets shared with.


Let’s take a simple example. If a user joins Facebook
today and wants to complete their personal profile, they get presented with several blank boxes (see right) to fill out. However, via the Implicit Web, as user should be able to tell Facebook to:

  • Fbprofilecheck Apple (or Rhapsody or iLike) for their Favorite Music
  • check Tivo (or Comcast) for their favorite TV shows
  • check Netflix (or Flixster) for their favorite Movies, and to
  • check Half.com (or Amazon) for their favorite Books.

Why should users be forced to re-create data that already exists? Talk about a waste of time.

I think there is a huge opportunity here. In fact, it reminds me of an opportunity I saw in 2000. In 2000, Sony launched their Playstation 2 – and they were quickly sold out. Over 50,000 Playstation 2’s were listed on eBay in the first week. That means that 50,000 sellers had to go to eBay and spend 15+ minutes creating the exact same listing. Every seller had to type-in the same description and upload the same picture. That’s over 12,500 hours wasted re-creating something that already existed elsewhere.  And that helped shape the vision of Half.com.

First Round Capital is actively looking to invest in companies that help make the Implicit Web a reality – either by breaking down the silos or by taking advantage of the data in a new way.

One final story. I remember hearing a story about a research study on dating (I haven’t been able to find the exact study – if anyone knows it, please tell me). Researchers basically arranged two types of blind dates. The first group of blind dates was a traditional dinner – where two people spent two hours talking and getting to know each other. The second group of blind dates was a little different. For this group, they took one person and let them spend five minutes alone in the other person's home or apartment. They could see their fridge, their clothes, their books, their music, how messy/neat the house was, etc.

And they found that the person who spent five minutes collecting implicit data got a far better (and more accurate) picture of their date then the person who spent two hours collecting explicit data by conversing.

I wonder if the same results will hold online…

Comments

Eric Norlin

Comments on the Implicit Web:

http://defragcon.com/Blog/?p=138

Ted

Hi Josh,
The company I'm trying to start right now is all about breaking down silos and bringing the web to reality.

Ted

Peter Cranstone

Take a look at www.5o9inc.com We've taken the approach of making the Internet contextually. Using our software a user stores all of their data in a secure database (on a mobile device - scales to anything else) and this information can be shared with any service without the user having to type in his/her data over and over again. All data remains under the users control.

Background - we're the inventors of mod_gzip. This technology (Mod_Mobile) is designed to allow web services to be extended to mobile devices without the need to build complex client side applications. On our web site are lots of business use cases including links to a demo page where you can watch a demo of real time GPS enabled search all done inside the browser without the need to enter your GPS data.

Cheers,

Peter

Edison Thomaz

Hi Josh,

Calacanis always seems eager to stir things up! There's enough controversy in the definition of Web 2.0, not to mention Web 3.0!

Agree with you 100% regarding the value of implicit behavior. We've been working in this space for a couple of years now, with Slife and more recently, Slifeshare as well. Would love to hear your feedback about what we are doing.

http://www.slifelabs.com/slife
http://www.slifeshare.com

I've met with Seth Goldstein about this before as well (Root, AttentionTrust). Seems like he's going in a different direction now.

Feel free to ping me anytime. I always enjoy having conversations about this topic.

Edison Thomaz

kid mercury

IMO the problem is what is the incentive for consumer-facing web services (i.e. netflix, amazon, napster, etc) to share user information with other consumer-facing web services? if anything, i'd argue that that's exactly what their NOT supposed to do, as it gives away their most valuable consumer advantage.

i think the solution is a network of loosely coupled niche, consumer-facing businesses. i view this as more of a business model innovation than anything else -- and IMO it is one that will emerge out of businesses that build their strategy around leveraging the disruptive potential of RSS and open source.

it is something i am working on, slowly but surely. :)

Phil

Hi Josh,

It is interesting that as of right now the Internet is essentially in the First Normal Form of database design; everything is replicated all over the place. I have been “noodling” on this concept for quite some time now, and it's a tough problem. Shared services and standards will help reign in some of the building blocks required; like universal logins, profiles and permissions that are easily manageable for the general public.

It’s almost as if an independent third party is needed to lay the infrastructure, like a government; but that seems to place us one step closer to utter chaos. Perhaps one of the Open Source alternatives like OpenID could be a better alternative.

Unfortunately that is only step one, step two is getting your users to a) signup and trust that it is not a scam. API Enablers like Mashery are a great way to forward this, and offer OpenID as an option that plays well with existing developer API’s much like Feedburner does for Blogs.

What are your thoughts?
Phil

eric marcoullier

the dating anecdote is from Malcolm gladwell's Blink.

Dave Sanford

Josh,
I realize you didn't intent to focus on dating in your post, but a couple of thoughts (I must be single or something?)

I think a for a lot of folks, checking out someone's facebook profile provides "5 minutes in the date's home." And of course most people who create a profile are driven by the identity motive to convey what they want in those 5 minutes. Many of the especially interesting bits are the "implicit" insights that come into play at the 1st and 2nd degree connections - what does this person's relationships with others tell me about him/her?

Of course, facebooking a blind date is pretty standard practice. I would go so far as to propose an interesting twist in the evolution of dating in the facebook era:

because people often know so much about their "blind" date before lunch/dinner/coffee, the conversation is less about finding out about the date's likes, dislikes, interests, and passions, as it is about seeing which ones will be mentioned and if the date will present them in the same or a different light relative to the profile info.

Sounds "stalkerish," but after observing this type of behavior amongst a bunch of my friends, it seems like one of those things that is true but which no one 'fesses up to.

Either that or all my friends are stalkerish daters...

Alex

This was a great post. Very interesting concept.

Yaron Bazaz

True, you identify here a real market pain

I had launched my new blog a few weeks ago. In order to publish the blog I entered my profile, links to interviews (it’s a vc/pe interviews blog), tags, interviews titles and summaries, etc again, again and again to all major social bookmarks sites that I know.

And I'm keeping doing that for any new interview I'm publishing (at least till the blog will gain momentum). Its exhausting, time consuming and stupid! In that regard I can recommend http://socialposter.com/generator.php that helps a bit. A service that will enable users to write piece of information once and duplicate it to numerous targeted sites, would be appreciated. Though it will be heaven for spammers, nightmare for information security guys and big a headache for Google algorithms' developers.

Cheers - Yaron

Elias Bizannes

Nice post Josh.

I thought I might draw your attention to a bit of activity in the industry with the attention economy. Have you heard of the APML standard? It deals with the implicit economy exectly as you describe. You may have heard the news the other day that blogslines will be supporting it.

You can read more at apml.org to find out about the companies using the standard - I've dealt with most of the guys on the group and what they are doing is interesting to say the least.

I'd be more than interested to discuss further with you, because I find the topic very interesting. Personally I work at big four firm as a consultant and I joined the APML workgroup because I thought it was a fantastic approach to dealing with a whole bunch of issues like privacy, exporting your attention data and the like.

Hope that helps

Jon

Great post.
"Implicit data" is certainly very interesting stuff.

I'm the founder of Cluztr, the social network built around people's clicks.

http://www.cluztr.com/

Would love to discuss this further with you Josh.

Katrina

Interesting post.

I have been thinking for years about various ways a solution to the 'silo' problem can be implemented. In most cases the issue will end up being the adoption of the technology by the general public. People in the field of internet technology have no problem with using open source alternatives like OpenID.

An interesting implementation of solving this 'silo' problem is a user-friendly widget called mEgo (www.mEgo.com) that you install on your social networking sites once. Then you control from it you user account. I have been Beta testing it and think it could catch on with a certain demographic.

Even with my passion for new technologies and innovation I still think it is scary that even without integrating all these 'silos' of information on the web, people can find out things about you easier than you may think...

In terms of dating this can be good, as once I found by googling a prospective date's email address, he was an alcoholic! Or bad when someone can see when you are online on certain sites and use it track you.

Paul Rosenfeld

Hi Josh,

I've had the same insight and your label is a nice one. I work for Intuit and the OFX data exchange that is used between Quicken and Bank websites is a nice analogy here. Now it's not a perfect analogy because bank data is similar across banks, unlike, say movies and music. But it does point to "aggregator" apps needing to import information on your behavior elsewhere. In fact, the term "screen scraping" is used in the fin svcs industry for aggregators that take bank information by posing as a user - yet another proof point as to the value.

All this being said, "aggregation" in the FI space was always a technology in search of a customer problem to solve. Other than Quicken, all you could do with aggregation, for the most part, is view your bank balances. Because of this lack of focus on real customer problems, aggregation has languished for the last ten years.

However, these days companies like Mint and other online personal finance tools are starting to use aggregation for a wealth of other purposes such as saving money, creating a budget, or benchmarking your finances against others. I expect some of these applications to meet with success, pointing out that getting the data isn't the same thing as finding a use for it.

So I think the social networks will need to come up with useful reasons/applications for your itunes and netflix data to be aggregated, or else these offerings will suffer the woes of financial aggregation.

On a related note, the Founder of Mint and I know each other and I'd like to ping him and ask for an introduction with you to continue the "implicit web" discussion in another vector I've been researching.

Regards.

Don Jones

Maybe the toughest part will be designing an automatic and universal log-on system that recognizes all potential logon configurations and requirements.

Paul Miller

'Implicit Web'. Hmm... We've been using 'Web of Intentions' as a label for our thinking along similar lines to those you lay out here. We're extending some of John Battelle's 'Database of Intentions' ideas from The Search, and thinking about the enhanced effect when this is happening in a distributed fashion and at Web scale, rather than 'just' inside Google.

See, for example, a video presentation from earlier this week - http://blogs.talis.com/nodalities/2007/10/towards_the_web_of_intentions.php

We're also building the Semantic Web-powered platform to realise the vision... :-) - http://www.talis.com/platform/

Phil Veal

I thought the dating story was interesting from a point of view of finding who you're looking for (I'll leave the technology to others).

Implication for businesses looking for talent: you'll learn more from visiting your potential recruits at home than having them come in for interview at the office. I don't know how you phrase that in the job ad or describe that to the recruiter, but there's an idea there.

In the businesses I've worked in and on I've certainly made my share of bad hiring decisions based on interviews (dates) alone.

Robert Rice

I prefer web 3.D over 2.0 (ha!)

IBM and Second Life recently announced they were working on some sort of standard for a ubiquitous avatar that would only need to be made once and could easily be transferred from one virtual world to another. Implicit identity in a 3D context? Why stop there?

I agree that it seems to be a waste of time having to recreate the same data over and over...how many of us have myspace, facebook, linkedin, etc. and continue to waste time typing in the same data over and over?

Virtual Worlds seem to be getting a lot of traction with institutional investors and large media companies, but I think that everyone seems to be missing the bigger picture. There is a huge disconnect between MMORPGs, Virtual Worlds, Social Networks, simulation technologies and collaborative tools. There should be some convergence going on here, but no one seems to be looking at things from the right perspective.

There are silos to be taken down (or at least connected) and there are a variety of new ways to take advantage of data, meta-data, and multiple access platforms (pc, web, console, handheld, and mobile).

I’d like to connect and chat about this further if anyone is interested.

Raj R

Implicit Web- here is another real world use case to highlight the pain point Josh talks about..

Walmart,Toy'R US, Target,GM, Toyota..these Companies bucket 1-2% of their annual revenue for product Recalls. Several of these products have been purchased online... Now, I doubt if these large retailers leverage any " implicit" automated way to lower cost of thier recall loop.

Also, if well executed, this implict approach could provide a way to "upsell"....

PS- I never said this is easy..

Gefen Australia

I'm thinking that as the web evolves more people are going to know more about each other, and it seems we are connecting more and more wanting our own 15 seconds of fame. If we can build a way to combine blogging with social sites that can show off each persons unique personality to the world and help them feel important (as thats really all everyone wants and where web2.0 came from) it will really shape the future.

Boogerman

Seems as though Google's recently announced Opensocial API will facilitate exactly what you're proposing above.

Richie

Hola,

Some fun stuff on the horizon, the next generation of the internet is customized alerts. Right now you can get content feeds but the next generation is personalized alert feeds for products (shopping/price watching) and other services. RSS was only the tip of the iceberg. At my last seed capital group meeting, we had 3 companies each with solid products (not saying they were proven yet) regarding alerts (including my own non profit) to me that sounds like its going to be big in the next year. By alerts I mean 1:M multi platform communication such as rss/email/fcbk/sms through one system.

Brady Brim-DeForest

The future of the implicit web will closely married to the future of data portability. In fact, you might be interested in what we're doing over at the Data Portability Workgroup: http://www.dataportability.org/

Todd

Sorry, just found your blog while doing fundraising research for my company, YourJet. The blind date experiment was described in Blink, by Malcom Gladwell who is also the author of Tipping Point.

By the way, I started my own blog on our website, www.flyyourjet.com a couple of months ago. Check it out and I look forward to talking to you shortly about my startup jet air taxi service utilizing Web 2.0, the latest hi-tech avionics GPS navigation and the advanced Very Light Jets.

Todd

Q dub

The unsolo-ing of user data means all that stuff has to sit together somwhere, and frankly, I don't see applications handing data over to the user. It's going to be somebody's job to store a person's entire "habit" database, and that job seems to make most sense for a social network.

Facebook Beacon was a decent attempt, though I can hardly imagine a world where the majority of my online activities result in a little blue prompt in the bottom right corner. We need something less intrusive still but manages to put privacy concerns to rest. Now they just need to step beyond the mundane "stream-of-activities" and actually allow other access to play with that data.

Stefan Constantinescu

this is by far the best definition of the direction the next generation of the internet should be heading, do you have any thoughts as to how this ties into mobile?

i'm writing a blog post about this very topic, i'd love if you could have a look at it before i publish. it isn't complete.

Ed Barrett

Josh,

THANK GOD someone has the guts to say that web 2.0 is utter nonsense. I'd like to think of the development of the web, and the companies within it as a continuum as opposed to some staged development with obvious breaks. All web 2.0 was (or is) about is creating distance between the current web firms, and those that went bust in 2000. This way the current firms can say "See we're different than the old models that created no value and imploded under their own weight, etc.". It's all just positioning.

Yuri G.

Let me know if you will need some researches on dating or online dating, i'd be happy to share :)

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Bulk SMS

I appreciate your honest post here on the implicit web. As hard as it is to believe, it is possible you overlooked the few things in question. It would appear it has become a little out of hand with a so much of information to manage about the implicit web. As a experianced person of nearly 15 years, i must say i totally agree with you on the implicit web.

extenze

yeah, web2.0 is sooo 2009!

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