Aggregate Knowledge announced it's acquisition by Neustar for $119M. All of us at First Round Capital are super-excited for Dave Jacobowski, the founders (Paul Martino and Chris Law) and the entire AK team. It is particularly poignent for me, because I was just getting started in the venture business -- and this was one of our first investments from First Round Capital.
2,904 days ago: I wrote Paul the email below...
From: Josh Kopelman
Sent: Thursday, November 17, 2005 11:45 AM
To: Paul Martino
Subject: Aggregate Knowledge
Howard Morgan recently forwarded me your email about Aggregate Knowledge. Howard and I are partners in a seed-stage fund that invests in early-stage technology companies. I don’t believe we’ve met, but I’ve heard wonderful things about you from several folks. I, like you, am a serial entrepreneur and have been an active angel investor over the last few year, with investments in LinkedIn, Del.icio.us, Riya/Ojos, Flock, IronPort, LiveOps and others.
I was particularly intrigued to learn about Aggregate Knowledge. Over the last year or so I’ve been thinking about the difference between “explicit” and “implicit” actions – and how they impact online navigation. I believe that while explicit actions (like tagging, bookmarking, entering in a query) clearly add immense value to users, there could be even more value derived from mining implicit activities (where did people go after they read this article, where did people go after they researched prices for a used honda accord at KelleyBlueBook.com, etc). In addition, I also have been thinking about metaphors for using this knowledge to help web users before they ask for it (ie, why force users to search for information – what if there was a persistent tool in the browser that recommended sites based on your current navigation path).
Maybe I’m reading my thoughts into your venture – but it definitely sounded like we were on similar paths. Howard and I are very interested in participating in your current angel round – so much so that if we were meeting in person, I would slide a check across the table right now. Since I can’t do that I thought I’d do the next best thing. Attached is our “virtual check” – just tell me where to send the original ;-).
I understand you are heading off on your honeymoon (congratulations, by the way) – but I would love an opportunity to participate. (us “Philly Boys” need to stick together). I look forward to hearing from you.
From: Paul J. Martino [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Thursday, November 17, 2005 3:10 AM
Subject: Aggregate Knowledge
We wanted to let you know that we have started a new company: Aggregate Knowledge (www.aggregateknowledge.com). Our goal is to deliver the best content to people based on the aggregate behavior of everyone who has gone before them. We think that the wisdom of crowds can help people get at the best of all the information that's out there. Our website doesn't have much information yet, but will soon.
We are still very early in our company's life cycle. Currently, we are closing a small "friends and family" round of funding and thank those of you who are participating. Our goal is to do an institutional round in the spring.
As many of you know, we previously launched WSFinder, a wiki-based directory of web services and APIs that people are using to create mash-ups. This was the starting point of our analysis of the web services landscape and marked the beginning of our goal to understand what was happening in the Web 2.0 world. The insights gained are driving much of the thinking behind Aggregate Knowledge.
WSRelater is the first web service that we are offering. It is an Amazon style "people who liked this, also liked that" engine that anyone can add to their website with a few hours of work. Since the engine is implemented as a web service, all sites that use the service can contribute to the aggregate knowledge database. We are pursuing direct applications of this technology with companies that are selling goods online and want to incorporate this functionality to their browsing experience.
The WSRelater service is in "Alpha" mode. We will move from Alpha mode once we have good feedback from a few experimenters about the service and move to more production ready hardware. The API for this service and its documentation are online at www.wsrelater.com. Please send us any feedback.
There are two things that we are asking our friends for assistance with in the short term.
1. If you know of a great sales / business development person that can help us knock on a few doors we'd love to meet them. Media and/or retail Biz Dev experience is really what we are looking for.
2. If you have a site and would like to participate in the alpha of the recommendation service please let us know!
We are targeting a January unveiling of our first consumer facingservice.
This new service will leverage the WSRelater engine to create a compelling user retention solution for media portals. You will hear more about this at the beginning of the year.
We will keep you posted.
Paul Martino and Chris Law