It’s been nearly two years since we first encountered Wavii. Operating in the equivalent of a bunker, the Seattle startup has offered just a few clues of the news aggregation service that it is building.
But the company — backed by some of Silicon Valley’s top angel investors and led by former Microsoftie Adrian Aoun — is finally creeping into the daylight with the announcement that its service is now publicly available.
So, what’s Wavii all about? Think about it as an automated news service that helps de-clutter your daily intake of digital content, helping to solve the problem of information overload.
“Wavii is kind of like having your own team of people whose only job is to work 24-7 to find the most relevant news, photos and videos about your interests, and summarize them into updates for your feed,” the company explains in a new promotional video. (See below).
In some regards, Wavii could get tossed into the same bucket with Seattle’s Evri, the Paul Allen-backed startup that’s developing ways to parse information into relevant news channels for consumers. In fact, one of Wavii’s former top engineers, Michele Banko, used to work at Evri. It also draws some parallels to Summify, the social news service that was acquired by Twitter earlier this year (and is slated to be shut down) and Zite which was acquired by CNN last summer.
But University of Washington computer scientist Oren Etzioni, an expert in natural language processing technologies, says Wavii’s extraction technology is simply better than Evri and other services.
“It’s too technical to describe how, but the results speak for themselves,” says Etzioni, an adviser to the company. “They are using their technology to create a feed and build a conversation around it. The way I think about it is: In Twitter you follow ‘who’ and on Wavii you follow ‘what.’”
Etzioni — who previously founded Farecast and Decide.com — said he thinks the company has a lot of promise.
“In short, Wavii marries two powerful trends: ‘semantics from text’—which we’ve seen Google and Bing move towards, and ‘social,’ which is red hot, of course,” he says. Investors in the company include Ron Conway, Shawn Fanning, Dave Morin, Mitch Kapor, Max Levchin, and others.
And what’s the business model? Advertising is a natural one, but Aoun tells The Wall Street Journal that they are “not pursuing revenue right now.”
Here’s the full video explaining the new — or should we say old — startup.