Israel-based Summer recently launched its free Google Chrome browser extension, which shows users information about the people they read about online, including celebrities, athletes, and public figures, within their existing browser tab. The app works for over 60 news and entertainment sites including Forbes, ESPN, and Time, who can use it to add an additional layer of information about the people they cover, and a way to further engage readers.
The company was part of the IDC elevator startup accelerator program, where they received $20,000 in funding. Summer’s co-founders got into the accelerator program with another startup idea which they scrapped and then started tinkering with new product ideas. “We realized we spent a lot of time looking for information about people, before meetings, people we read about, it became part of our daily job when we were looking for new product ideas. We were searching the web, around the clock, and that’s how Summer was born, we wanted to create an easy way to get information about people,” co-founder Lior Degani said in an interview.
Summer provides an extra layer of information about notable individuals featured in news coverage on compatible websites. Users download the app for free in the Chrome Web Store, and then as users browse Summer-supported websites and publications, they’ll see blue brackets around the names mentioned in the article. Users then click on the Summer tab on the webpage, and a side panel opens up that aggregates biographies, latest Tweets, videos, and photos about that person. For example, the panel would show trailers for an actor’s upcoming films, or if it was an investor or entrepreneur’s name on a technology blog, the panel would show the names of the companies they previously invested in or started.
“Right now we’re compatible with 60 or 70 new sites around the world which we hand-picked. So when you go those sites, we recognize the name using a Natural Language Processing algorithm, we take the names in the text and get you the information and bring you the latest Tweets, photos, and more,” Degani added.
Right now the company doesn’t have a monetization strategy in place, though Degani said they have ideas for monetizing the service down the line, everything from contextual ads embedded in the streams to going into affiliate marketing with partnerships with likes of iTunes, Amazon and sports leagues that would then give people the option to purchase the latest movie, song, or team apparel from any given individual.
In many ways the app is akin to Rapportive‘s plugin for Gmail, which aggregates all the social network information for contacts and displays it in a sidebox in your inbox. Unlike Rapportive, Summer is focusing on people with some level of notoriety, not address book contacts, with the hopes that it will save users from having to copy and paste a name, open another tab and do a Google search for related information. It’s a similar premise to Marginize, which lets anyone add their comments to a web page, and browse other people’s comments.
The company is currently closing a round of seed funding, and in addition to the existing web app for Chrome, Summer will be looking to develop and roll out its apps for Firefox, Safari, and Internet Explorer in the following few months. The other key target for them is to provide tools and widgets for bloggers to embed in their websites, as well as expanding the searchable items from people’s names to products, brands, cities, and more. While the app could be a valuable tool for people looking for that extra layer of info on the people they’re reading about, its growth will be limited by browser availability, publishing partners, and users. If it can expand all three of those groups, while also finding a way to monetize its app, it could be a successful browser add-on for both readers and publishers.