Bottlenose Launches Search and Discovery Engine to Unearth Trending Content

Los Angeles- and Amsterdam-based discovery engine Bottlenose launched in public beta today, and debuted its search portal where users can explore global news and trending topics in real-time on a personalized dashboard. The discovery engine showcases news, photos, videos and links that are trending across Twitter, Facebook and Google+. The company, which has raised $600,000 in funding from angel investors, has 60,000 users in its private beta, who are spending an average of 90 minutes per day using the tool.

Bottlenose founder Nova Spivack is a serial entrepreneur and the first investor in Klout. He said in an interview that Bottlenose is attempting to do for social search what Google’s algorithm did for web search – organizing content in a way that shows what’s trending, and what’s important. “Our mission is to organize the world’s attention, Google’s mission is organize the world’s information,” Spivack said in an interview. “We’re interested in what people are paying attention to, we’re kind of curating the collective consciousness.”

Users can search a term, person or topic, and Bottlenose compiles the latest trending content from across social media sites into a dashboard view. Users can view the content in a variety of ways, including newspaper-style, or using the company’s Sonar feature, which shows trending content on a heatmap. Users can search without creating an account, but can create one to save searches or follow topics. Registered users can also create a homepage within the app that displays what’s trending in their personal network, as opposed to the global network. “It helps you see what’s happening now, and what’s trending, what’s important, around any topic,” Spivack said. “We’re showing you the most real-time view of what’s happening.”

For example, a user interested in seeing the latest news about the upcoming London Olympics could search for that term, and see the news articles, trending topics and people, and recent comments from social networks, associated with the Olympics at that moment. The discovery engine, which is built in Javascript and HTML5, uses in-house analytics, natural language processing and proprietary algorithms to pick out what’s trending at any given moment.

Bottlenose is a free platform, though Spivack said that several brands and agencies use Bottlenose to detect trends, conversations and influencers. Eventually the company will offer subscription accounts for individuals and brands that offer analytics and other features, as well as a free version that is ad-supported. They also plan to release an API for marketers and brands, as well as plug-in apps for enterprise-level users.

There are a wide variety of companies attempting to unearth social media trends, and aggregate content from a user’s networks, from social media monitoring companies like Radian6, to social media dashboards like Hootsuite, to news readers like Flipboard and Zite, and trendspotting tools like Trendspottr, which is much more of a direct competitor. Social search tool Topsy aims to provide a similar search tool, but Spivack said they’re focused on unearthing past updates, rather than focusing on what’s happening now. Spivack said that Twitter is technically a competitor, even though they pull from Twitter’s API, since they have their own search and discovery features.

The biggest issue for Bottlenose will be convincing users that they need to find trending information there instead of on social networks or through news sites or RSS feeds. Spivack said that ultimately, Bottlenose is about cutting through the noise. “Social networks have everything right away, but there’s just too much noise,” he said. “How do you know what’s important in that chatter?” In terms of user acquisition, Spivack said that since each search result page has a unique URL, they can be found by search engines, so he envisions people finding the content through Google, and each page is also shareable on social networks. If Bottlenose can become a landing page people open every day to get a snapshot of trending content around the world, it could gain a base of users outside the early beta testers. But trying to lure users’ attention away from social networks is becoming an increasingly tall order.




Erin Bury

Erin Bury

Erin Bury is a Co-founder and CEO at Willful, an online estate planning platform. Also a former Managing Director at Eighty-Eight, a creative communications agency based in Toronto. She was formerly the Managing Editor at BetaKit. Follow her on Twitter at @erinbury.

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