Percolate aims to filter the flood of social media information

As social networks multiply, merely staying on top of all the updates is turning into a full-time job. Now a startup, Percolate, aims to distill your personal information flood into a more concentrated brew.

New York-based Percolate aggregates your Google Reader and Twitter feeds, highlighting the links that are most likely to be relevant to you. Its interface makes it easy to add short comments or tags to articles as they appear. In addition, Percolate is its own social network, so you can follow people on Percolate and see the tags and comments they’re posting.

“What makes you interesting is what you consume,” says cofounder James Gross, a former executive at online advertising network Federated Media, taking a decidedly consumerist perspective on human nature.

As he explained to VentureBeat, “consumption” online means sharing and commenting on links, and it’s that activity that Percolate wants to make more efficient.

“If you look at most of the social behavior on Twitter and Facebook and Tumblr, most of what people are doing is contextualizing links,” Gross says.

Screenshot showing the Percolate dashboardPercolate may sound a bit like yet another Google+, and it’s going to face steep competition from the search giant’s social network, which took less than two weeks to hit 10 million users, despite having only limited availability. In addition, while Percolate’s dashboard is very scannable, it’s hard to see what compelling value it offers as an alternative to, say, a well-selected list of Twitter accounts.

But Gross is unfazed. He and cofounder Noah Brier, who was formerly at ad agency The Barbarian Group, plan to make Percolate stand out through ease of use and readable design.

Plus, it’s not merely a filtering tool: Percolate is also a publishing platform of sorts, enabling people to publish their “likes” and tags in a swift and mobile-friendly way.

The business, they hope, will make money by licensing the Percolate API to big brands, who can use it to publish links more easily to networks like Twitter and Facebook. The company will also provide brands with guidance about which people and accounts to follow in order to discover relevant content. In other words, while it looks like a new social network (and a tiny one at that), Percolate really aims to be a marketing tool for social media-savvy advertisers.

“Percolate is the first workflow tool that takes the consumption angle and the filtering angle and applies it to making it very simple to share,” Gross says.

Percolate has seven employees and is self-funded by the founders. It has four paying customers already, Gross says.

The service is currently invitation-only, but up to 150 VentureBeat readers can register to test out the service with this special Percolate invitation link.


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