For the next in our series of publisher/content provider interviews, I turn to Larry Schwartz, President of Newstex, a new player in a relatively crowded space – news aggregation. But Newstex is adding a tremendous amount of value, as Larry describes here.
Can you briefly describe Newstex?
As a new company in the content business, Newstex was founded in 2004 with the luxury of having no excess baggage surrounding “the way we’ve always done it” like so many more traditional businesses. So we created a virtual company. We have no physical office. I work out of my home on the shoreline in Connecticut and the rest of our management and staff work virtually from points all over the United States and Canada. We make extensive use of Web 2.0 collaboration tools to get the job done including BaseCamp for project management, Writely for online word processing with collaboration and sharing, Sugarcrm.com as our open source CRM, GotVmail as a Virtual PBX, Skype for all internal communications, and GotoMeeting for virtual meetings. Working virtually saves countless hours of unproductive time and makes us more efficient.
There are already a number of news aggregators in the market. Why is Newstex different?
We created Newstex to deliver what’s essentially a large pipe of content that can be used by companies and information businesses. We don’t have any end-user applications—all we do is supply Content On Demand and Blogs On Demand to enterprise customers and information businesses. We’re a utility like the electric company – we don’t generate the power but add value to the transmission process.
Basically we supply content that’s pre-tagged and ready to be used by our customers. We do the work to license a ton of newsfeeds and deliver it as one normalized newsfeed. Our initial offering, Content On Demand, delivers instant, full-text premium newsfeeds, giving content distributors and enterprise customers cost-effective access to tailored newsfeeds from thousands of branded newswires, newspapers, magazines, financial and business sources, official government feeds and weblogs. The full-text digital news and commentary feeds are made instantly available in standardized format, with value-added stock ticker symbols, people tickers, taxonomy-based categorization and robust meta-tagging—all as easy-to-integrate XML or RSS newsfeeds.
What market needs were going unmet that inspired you to start this up?
As new forms of user generated content such as blogs and commentary took off, enterprise customers have been trying to make sense of this important media. Users are asking for blog content. So we saw a huge opportunity to aggregate full text blogs for use in the enterprise in the same way that we aggregate premium content. The result is the revolutionary Blogs On Demand product, which we released at the end of 2005.
Can you explain the value Newstex is adding to blog content that is essentially free?
Blogs On Demand makes available full-text blog content from premier Weblogs for content distributors and enterprise customers. Unlike existing Web-based blog aggregation services, Newstex actually licenses influential blog content directly from bloggers and then takes in each carefully selected blog feed in text format and uses its proprietary NewsRouter technology to normalize and add metadata in real-time. Each blog post delivered as part of Newstex Blogs On Demand is treated as a news story. This makes it easy to search or to add to alerting programs and whatnot.
Because blog content is easily integrated into the applications that people use everyday, including content aggregator services, financial trading environments and customer relationship management systems, the blog content can be searched with ticker symbols and category codes that we add to each blog post. As far as we know, no other company is delivering blog content in this way.
Alacra has seen tremendous demand for information about people recently. One of the unique features of Newstex is how you identify and tag people in the database. Can you explain how this works and what customer reaction has been to this?
Newstex uses our proprietary NewsRouter technology to scan each story from premium publishers and blog posts in real-time. This process automatically tags each story with key company names and tickers, notable executives and government officials. In effect, we’re adding PeopleTickers to each story that is distributed via Content On Demand. PeopleTickers are very much like stock tickers and are used in the same way—to find content via search or to trigger alerts.
We developed our Newstex PeopleTickering system to synthesize metadata from numerous premium sources to create a unique database of people who are making news. Notable people appearing in real-time news stories are automatically tagged by the PeopleTicker engine, in a process similar to assigning stock ticker symbols to companies. Using tailored newsfeeds from its Content On Demand offering, Newstex’s downstream customers can quickly and easily build powerful search and visualization tools.
What are the next big thing(s) for Newstex?
We’re working on several major initiatives. Because we see blogs and other forms of user generated content as being important to deliver to enterprises, we constantly add new blogs to the feed. We’re literally adding new blogs every day and we now have several hundred blogs in over 27 different topics.
One of our newest projects is a news and commentary feed from the 50 United State Capitals. Content is coming form traditional sources like newspapers and new sources like TV websites and blogs.