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Searching for a good read can be a difficult amidst the millions of books and infinite diversity of tastes and opinions. Parakweet has raised $2 million to not only make this quest easier but also more individualized.
Parakweet’s core product Bookvibe combines natural language processing and social-media analytics to find the books that are right for you. The technology identifies discussions about books and movies — along with associated behaviors and sentiment — from hundreds of social media conversations and recommends books accordingly.
“People generate vast amounts of social media text every day, and social networks are a huge influencer in the way that consumers discover products and [make] purchase decisions,” said founder Ramesh Haridas in a Q&A. “By helping computers understand what we say to one another, we believe there’s great value that we can bring to people by surfacing what is most important and relevant.”
The system taps into hundreds of millions of organic updates on Twitter, Facebook, and more and identifies certain behaviors like “intent to read,” “read,” and “recommend.” It factors in users’ personal interests, their online behavior, and the interests and affinities of people in their social graph to make recommendations that are more targeted than those Amazon promotes or word of mouth.
Haridas said Bookvibe is just one of the possible applications of the platform, and books are just “the tip of the iceberg.” This is Haridas’ third startup. He has founded and sold two companies and is an active angel investor. Parakweet was founded in 2010. This funding came from angel investors Scott Banister, Alan Braverman, David Jeske, Takashi Kobayashi, Mark Kasiraja, Tom Isaac, Vikas Taneja, Michael Young, and others.
In March 2013, Amazon announced that it was acquiring Goodreads, a popular social-reading service. The site had over 16 million members, and Amazon wanted to scoop up its technology, which improves the process of discovering and discussing books to ultimately drive sales. Other competitors include Shelfari, Riffle, and social-media analytics companies Radian6 and Crimson Hexagon. Haridas said Bookvibe is distinguished by its focus on specific vertical markets to maximize precision and actionability.
It has six employees and is based in San Francisco.