Aggregate Knowledge, a Silicon Valley company that recommend products to visitors of Web sites based on what people like them have previously chosen, is offering its service across Web sites.
The service is called the Pique Discovery Network.
The San Mateo, Calif., company’s technology seeks to put products or content in front of you that pique your interest. So if you’re reading an article on WashingtonPost.com about your favorite sports player, says the Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez, the network will show other articles about A-Rod that other fans have chosen to read, and then also tickets to the next game A-Rod is playing in — all in the same window. Pique draws the tickets from a ticket site participating in its network.
Chief executive Paul Martino says several competitors doing what Aggregate Knowledge does to recommend products — for example, Germany’s Wunderloop — but that few sites offer the service across Web sites.
He said the product will work in email, too, for example offering you three products in your email related to what you most recently bought. It will work on mobile phones, things like affiliate programs, point of sale devices and set-top boxes, much of this to be offered next year. The project is in testing mode, and Martino said several customers are using it, he wasn’t allowed to name them.
He said click-through rates range from 18 to 22 percent consistently, and sometimes as high as 25 percent.
The company has already served technology to 60 million people checking more than 100 Web sites owned by 35 clients — including Overstock.com to Vinfolio, HealthCentral, SmartBargains and TicketsNow.
The company employs 50 people. Martino isn’t saying whether it’s profitable yet.
Aggregate Knowledge held a dinner with its backer, Kleiner Perkins‘ Randy Komisar (pictured left), with several media folks. We were unable to attend for time reasons, but Komisar again said his firm is not investing in “Web 2.0 companies.” Kleiner Perkins is a well regarded firm, and so Komisar’s comments got picked by Tom Foremski, who suggests Kleiner has somehow “halted Web 2.0” investments, as though there was some sort of abrupt conscious decision. However, Komisar has expressed skepticism about Web 2.0 in this column he wrote for VentureBeat in January, and said back then that he wasn’t interested in the sector. He seems to be repeating what he did then, which is there’s a lot of hype around Web 2.0 and that companies seeking to make money simply from Google ads don’t have much of a chance. This is more of a comment about pure Web 2.0 companies and what that term has come to stand for.
Predictably, though, Komisar’s remarks elicited a quick response from Tim O’Reilly (scroll down), whose group helped come up with the term Web 2.0, and who has a lot at stake at this term not losing some of its luster, in part because he hangs an entire (lucrative) conference on the term. In our view, this is all just a game of semantics. Since Komisar made his remarks in January, plenty of Web 2.0-related companies have seen good outcomes, from StumbleUpon, to Zimbra and LastFM. All of these offer great services. Komisar wouldn’t deny that interactive features like the ones offered by Zimbra are powerful and worthy of investment. Indeed, his own investment, Aggregrate Knowledge, exhibits many Web 2.0-related elements. Rather, he’s beating the drum against endless line of copycat ad-dependent sites that aren’t offering anything unique.
Update: We’ve gotten a list of attendees (web20conference.pdf) to the recent Web 2.0 conference, which includes many venture capitalists, so there’s still some interest here. Notably, a source tells us Kleiner Perkins has been looking to hire a partner to focus on investing in web companies. We’re trying to confirm.