Israeli Curiyo integrates search engines with social media
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Photo Credit: Curiyo

The guy who sold Answers.com for $127 million has just launched a new app that merges social media and search engines in delivering information

A number of apps have come out over the years trying to capitalize on, or better put, converge the crowded collection of social media platforms. Flipboard so far has received the most media attention for doing this.

But Curiyo, a new app launched on September 1 on Android with an iOS version expected in the coming days, follows topics, not people or companies, while delivering the ‘whole package’ in news sources, encyclopedia articles, social media postings, and user commentary. It treats social media as just another, equally valid source of information

“Curiyo brings focused, relevant content about any person, place or thing directly to you in an all-in-one view,” said Co-founder and CEO Bob Rosenschein to Geektime. Rosenschein found himself in Jerusalem on Monday evening, pushing the launch to a crowd of entrepreneurs at the city’s StartUp Open.

He is a veteran of the information age, selling Answers.com for $127 million just four years ago and has taken home Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award in the past. But his approachability is especially remarkable and his lighthearted charisma made his exploration of meaningful social interaction compelling at the event.

“A friend of mine said at the time, ‘Young entrepreneur award? I hate to break it to you Bob, but you aren’t so young anymore,'” he quipped to an amused crowd.

“The big problem today is overload and distraction,” he explained to Geektime, saying that the way a search engine works necessitates shifting from site to site somewhat monotonously, making it “easy to get thrown off by distraction and be torn in different directions” going from one site to another.

The nature of social media and the objective of search engines have been merged in his new platform. Instead of being fed a list of options like in an engine, Curiyo curates from updates and relevant search results from various platforms at once.

Getting users to throw in their two cents

“I love Google. I love Flipboard. But we’re creating a one-stop shop.”

Going further, the objective here is to go from a person-centric medium to a topic-centric one similar to following a subreddit or a favorite hashtag on Twitter. It also is meant to clean out what Curiyo considers clutter and jumble in other networks.

When asked if Curiyo was partially a response to the emergence of algorithms such as Facebook’s, which arbitrarily filter what content you see in your feed, Rosenschein told Geektime that the “Facebook news feed is indeed complicated,” but Curiyo was looking to go far beyond the social feed.

“Curiyo’s aggregation covers much more than social media (like Flipboard), but rather videos, pictures, news, etc.”

But in Rosenschein’s words, Flipboard aims to be a magazine, not a social medium.

Curiyo-screen-shot-01

Photo Credit: PR

Curiyo adds a social element to aggregation that doesn’t exist with a platform like Flipboard. On any category, the user is encouraged to comment via its My2¢ feature with personal recordings and video commentary: sort of like Vine, only with substance.

The My2¢ comments would be ranked and shared by the community. What’s different here is that unlike comments on a single post, they live on the ‘category pages,’ which might also include popular Facebook posts and tweets.

Add to this that you can turn your commentary into Facebook posts, tweets, YouTube uploads or Instagram pics. Prolific adoption by new users and frequent use of the app could make someone a social influencer.

Internationalizating the conversation

Rosenschein told Geektime another element missing from the industry was integrating public interaction across borders. The app is starting in 15 different languages.

When I tell Rosenschein that I am a bit of a polyglot, I ask if I might get the chance to aggregate sources in English, Hebrew, and Spanish all at the same time. He says not just yet, but the app is still young. He also told us that he designed the app to adapt, expecting the unexpected market to adopt the platform en mass.

“Many apps in the past ended up more popular in one place than another. When Google launched Orkut, it took off in Brazil but pretty much nowhere else,” making Portuguese support far more important than even English. “We anticipate that happening easily,” with Curiyo.

For now, the app is looking to amplify its soft launch with a focus on the U.S. and Israeli markets. Rosenschein mentioned that Curiyo plans to implement “minimal” advertising to raise revenue, but the focus right now was on gaining users and traction. That means the next rounds of fundraising will head toward enhancing user experience.

“Our first focus today is on users and traffic. The next investments will be in community functionality, smarter news feeds, and, of course, marketing.”

When closing his presentation to the crowd last night, Rosenschein said that the more negative aspects of social media ought to be stamped out within the highly competitive startup community.

“We should take ourselves a little more lightly,” the business veteran told the audience, “and treat people with more respect.”

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