Yoono, a social search engine — without tagging

Yoono is a tool that finds pages relevant to the one you are surfing on, and locates people who are also interested in that site.

This company is notable because similar players like StumbleUpon have become popular lately.

France-based Yoono relies on the goodwill of other users, however, requiring them 1) to download Yoono’s toolbar (and some users are now overwhelmed by toolbars) and then 2) give Yoono permission to search their bookmarks, which it then stores in its database. Yoono is a long-shot, we believe, because of these hurdles. However, after these two steps, there’s no more work required. In fact, your elderly aunt might figure this out — and she may not want to “tag,” which is the alternative used by other social search engines (StumbleUpon and Delicious).

Let’s take a straightforward example of how Yoono works. If you are surfing VentureBeat, you’ll see (partial screenshot below) that Yoono has searched its database for users who have bookmarked articles where VentureBeat is named. It then lists them in the sidebar at left, by relevance. VentureBeat broke the “Powerset” story, and so it is no surprise this story is high up in the article listings. At the far bottom of the sidebar, you’ll see links that Yoono has found in the bookmarks of people who have also saved VentureBeat as a bookmark (Gigaom and Techmeme are at the top; we’ve cut the screen, but dozens of other links follow).

Right now, there are no “Yoosers,” or people who have tastes that are similar to VentureBeat’s (likely because I haven’t opened up my bookmarks for Yoono to tap).

The company also has a “surprise” button, which is similar to StumbleUpon — it finds a site you might like based on the site you’re surfing.

Its business model is advertising. Ads will put in the sidebar. The company raised $2 million two months ago from AGF Private Equity. It has ten employees.

On Dec. 11, at the Paris Le Web 3 event, Yoono will add a blog search feature (which draws on the RSS feeds from sites contained in the 25 millions bookmarks in its database), and a new way to visualize the Yooser network (a control panel to search Yoosers by topic). The company says it has more than 200,000 users.

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