We recently dropped by Groxis‘ spiffy new digs in San Francisco’s financial district, and talked with CEO RJ Pitman about the warchest of cash his company has built to remain a player in the Internet search space. The money — $12 million — comes from Draper Fisher Jurvetson.
Groxis first launched its search tool last year. The tool, Grokker, has remained clearly differentiated from mainstream players Google, Yahoo and Ask Jeeves. It uses the search results of these and other search engines, but it lists them differently: according to subject, so that a search for Paris gives you a single page with several categories titled “History,” “Museums,” “Universities,” “Hotels” and so on. Each result category is presented on the Web page in the shape of a sphere, in which further sub-categories may be listed.
The trick for Groxis is to get users to pay for the service. Its format makes it less friendly to advertising. Groxis is aiming to sell to schools and universities, where students could make use of Groxis’ ability to seriously drill down into subject areas (we wish them good luck given the current state of the nation’s school budgets). Groxis also hopes to sell its product to companies, which might like Groxis’ ability to integrate an intranet search with Web search and more (Groxis can also include search results from Lexis Nexis, IEEE, Web Library and so, if a user has an account with such services). The company has signed up a few big customers, though it hopes to score more big deals later this year — when schools make purchasing plans. Groxis is sticking with its original plans — announced last year — to charge individuals $49 to download the software for more than the free 30-day test period.
Meanwhile, CEO Pitman hopes to pull in enough revenues so that he’s breaking even by the end of the year. And for next year, he’s aiming for four-fold growth in revenues. It’s going to be hard slogging, but Pitman picked a good spot to blow off steam come nightfall: The Bubble Lounge is just across the street.