Five Years Too Late

October 28, 2008

Adaptive Blue

Eric Wiesen

Eric Wiesen

When we launched Five Years Too Late, it was for a few reasons, one of which was to provide transparency into our investment process and how we think about both the investments we’ve made and those we choose not to make. We hope that this transparency will add some value to the overall conversation happening on the web around venture capital and entrepreneurship, and that entrepreneurs will better understand RRE and the deals we do through this effort.

Today we are happy to announce our investment in AdaptiveBlue, a Series B round led by RRE. AdaptiveBlue is a New York company developing semantic and social web technology and products. This announcement coincides with the release of the company’s new product, “Glue“, which allows users to socially interact and connect around common objects like books, movies, restaurants and music. Glue is a contextual network – meaning that it enables consumers to browse the web and seamlessly see and interact with everyday things, while simultaneously gaining a social layer of insight and reference related to those objects. Because of the way Glue attaches to the user’s browser, users don’t have to make substantial changes to their browsing behavior – the Glue toolbar will simply drop down where appropriate.

This investment is the result of a sector-wide analysis we conducted of the “semantic web“, a set of technologies and approaches that we think address some of the fragmentation issues starting to become problematic across the web. As users spend their time and attention on an increasing number of websites, both product-related and social, the user’s experience is being increasingly divided into smaller and smaller pieces when what is needed to create a better interaction is some level of connectivity between these silos.

At a high level, we chose to make this investment for two big reasons, and these reasons map pretty cleanly to the highly-abstract investment framework we sometimes talk about: People, Technology and Markets.

  1. People. We are extremely impressed with Alex Iskold and his team. Alex has struck us over the course of many meetings and time spent together, as a creative, thoughtful and deeply intelligent technical founder, who has been able to crack some pretty difficult problems in some very elegant ways. His public-facing web persona, as evidenced by his writing for ReadWriteWeb and his various other blogging bits and pieces, strongly reinforce this viewpoint. We think that he’s already developed innovative products, and we are happy to have the opportunity to bet on him to continue to do so as semantics becomes a bigger and more central part of the user experience webwide.
  2. Technology. The notion of using technology to understand the meaning and intent of pages on the web (rather than merely parsing for keywords) is a non-trivial exercise to say the least, and we are impressed with AdaptiveBlue’s development to date. We think there is real value being built in the company’s technology and that defensibility will be built along two fronts – difficulty of replication and a growing network of users. This first is further along today, but with the release of Glue the second can begin to gain some momentum. The dual goals of connecting silos of data and of providing social sentiment around the things contained in those silos are problems we think are well worth solving, and that Adaptive Blue is on the right track.

Where we think we might be taking some risk is the market today, only insofar as it is nascent. But we are quite confident that we will live in a world where semantics are used to digest, connect and curate the web in a way that helps us as consumers to consistently be presented with a sort of socially-filtered web experience, where the preferences and viewpoint of our friends and others around the web inform our consumption of web content. We think AdaptiveBlue is well-positioned to capitalize in a big way on this vision.

So, welcome Alex and the AdaptiveBlue team to the RRE family. Happy to have you on board.

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