Seattle-based Wavii, is moving out of stealth mode, getting a major boost when it was tweeted (or auto-tweeted on registration) Monday by top Google exec Marissa Mayer. Under wraps for many months, the site’s tech foundation has made this a complicated start-up, as founder Adrian Aoun told Geekwire: “We are focused on tough technical challenges that really effect people’s lives, and a lot of that takes time.”
Using a proprietary element of natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning, Wavii creates social content culled from news, blogs, and tweets across the web, delivering information in a Facebook-like feed; in a way, making Facebook out of Google — all the more interesting, then, that Google’s Mayer is kicking the tires. Using Facebook Connect to enter, users pick a combination of a dozen topics that generate an “interest graph” from which Wavii creates a personalized content timeline.
As TechCrunch puts it, “Like on Quora, you can follow individual topics and people at any time — the Wavii algorithm eventually learns what you like and drills down, offering pared down summaries, visualizations, related data, images and videos tailored to your tastes.”[more]
At present, Wavii covers Entertainment and Tech verticals, but will soon include Politics, Sports, Music, Cities and Gaming. “Today, most people get their news by searching Google or browsing sensationalized headlines that repeat the same story,” writes Wavvi’s Dan Lewis in a blog post. ”If you’re a bit savvier you use Twitter or a news reader, hoping they’ll point to stuff you care about… but no where can you simply follow your interests, like that politician you love to hate, your company, your sports team, this summer’s movies, etc. Why not? Because today, nobody is creating feeds for all of these topics.”
Aoun, formerly of Microsoft, told TechCrunch, “Facebook’s feed has proven itself as the best way of connecting with and staying on top of your friends, but it’s limited to friends. Users want the rest of their info that way too, whether it’s their interest in politicians, movies, cities, or startups. Wavii lets you follow everything else (e.g., politicians, celebrities, companies, products, etc). Instead of your friends’ check-ins, photo tagging, relationship status, etc., you get company acquisitions, movie trailers, celebrity sightings, etc.”
Aoun sees posts on a Wavii feed as real-world conversation starters and to that end, is currently analyzing close to one million news sources from tweets to RSS feeds. A team of 20 people with engineers from Amazon Web Services, Powerset and Last.fm are working on it, as the private beta opens to 1,000 users.
Backers include SV Angel, Felicis Ventures, Max Levchin, Mitch Kapor, Fritz Lanman, Max Ventilla, Shawn Fanning, Ron Conway, Rick Marini, Dave Morin, and Crunchfund. “Even if the same story in the news is written 6 different ways in 18 different articles, we simplify it all into a single, bite-sized news event in your feed…no spin, no repetitive articles all saying the same thing,” added Lewis in his blog post.