Decide.com already tells consumers when they should buy cameras, phones, refrigerators and other gadgets and appliances, analyzing price drops and increases. Now, the Seattle startup and brainchild of University of Washington computer scientist Oren Etzioni and others is getting into the recommendation business, assigning a score of 1 to 100 on more than 22,000 products that it tracks.
The new Decide Score feature, launching today, puts products in four categories from “we love it” (assigned to nine percent of products) to “don’t buy it” (assigned to 12 percent of products).
With the launch of Decide Score, the young upstart appears to be taking direct aim at Consumer Reports. The 76-year-old magazine analyzes and ranks thousands of different products, from automobiles to gas grills to baby strollers. Asked about competition, Decide.com’s Shauna Causey agreed that other entities do offer in-depth consumer information and recommedations.
“We’re taking a different approach by using big data and the wisdom of the users to determine if products are the best or worst,” Causey said. In order to compile the score, Decide.com is analyzing 7,000 expert reviews and two million user reviews from sources such as Amazon.com, Best Buy and others.
Decide.com pulls that review information from third-party sources, using a “crawling” technology similar to what search engines employ.
“It entails crawling publically available reviews, and presenting users with pointers to read the full reviews as appropriate,” said Causey. “The heart of our algorithms is in normalizing the reviews and removing biases due to different sources, changes in review scores over time, and attempts to “game” the review system.
By aggregating multiple sources and statically analyzing the reviews and their scores we are able to deliver very high-quality scores that have been benchmarked carefully against multiple sources.”
In addition to the new Decide Score, the company also is expanding its offering of products to include sports equipment (tennis rackets, tents, treadmills, skis, etc.); lawn & garden items (hedgers, leaf blowers, lawn mowers, etc.); and tools & hardware (drills, saws, generators, etc.)
Launched in June 2011, the company says its price predictions have been accurate 77 percent of the time.
Decide.com raised a $6 million venture round last year from Maveron, Madrona, early Google investor and former Amazon.com executive Ram Shriram; former Expedia CEO Erik Blachford and former Farecast CEO Hugh Crean. Former Farecast executive Mike Fridgen, who helped sell the online travel search company to Microsoft for $115 million in 2008, serves as CEO of Decide.com
Previously on GeekWire: Decide.com unveils daily deal site, promises cash if prices later fall on gadgets