That Didn't Take Long: Classified Search Market Gets Even More Crowded

from the but-why? dept

It was just a few weeks ago that the near simultaneous launch of two different "blog classified search engines" seemed quite confusing, because no one could explain the real pain point these offerings were solving. Of course, as with any buzz-filled startup space, if someone has the idea, then 20 other entrepreneurs probably have it also, and they all seem to launch at once. So, Edgeio and BlogBuy now get to take a look at a startup called Vast, that appears to be aiming at the same market, but perhaps with grander ambitions. The difference here is that Vast is more of a pure vertical search engine that doesn't require people to use any special "tags" or anything in the info they post. Basically, it sounds like a comparison shopping engine that looks at more sources -- similar, in other ways to classified search engine Oodle. Of course, Oodle discovered that life got tricky when the major source of their classifieds info, Craigslist, shut off their access. Vast could easily face the same problem. The company is trying to be a bit different by being more of a platform, on top of which others can build applications. That's a cool strategy, but it really requires a lot of work to get others to bet on your setup as a real platform. Separately, it's worth noting that Vast was founded by one of the Epinions wonder-kids who later sued their VCs. At the time, there were stories suggesting that Naval Ravikant had been drummed out of the VC firm he worked for (though, we've heard disputed versions of this story). However, when that happened, many were saying that he'd never be able to raise VC money again. Apparently, not all VCs ascribe to that view, as Vast has raised cash. Past sins can be forgotten when there's buzz on the table.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    Nik Cubrilovic, Mar 14th, 2006 @ 6:06am

    Vast

    Hi Mike, I spent a bit of time with Naval and a lot of time with Vast and looked at it for Techcrunch. Just to clear up some points you raised:

    1. Unlike Oodle and other services, Vast actually links back to the source - no scraping here. So there is an incentive for the content publishers to have Vast pick up and distribute their content.
    2. Vast is unlike these other services because instead of a human-edited directory of sources, it crawls the whole web and extracts information out of the long tail (one point Naval told me which I didn't post to Techcrunch was that over 50% of their listings are from the long tail of the web). So this means that they are not reliant on a handful sites for their content
    3. Vast is not trying to become a destination, its job is to find all these listing from all over the web, regosnise the content and categorise it, then syndicate it to other sites. So oodle would be using Vast as a source and building the comparison value-add on top of that.

    The more time I spent looking into Vast, the more it made sense to me. This isn't a direct Edgeio or Oodle competitor - they can both take the Vast content then build their value on top of it or along side it. The conclusion of my post on Techcrunch was that Vast is a winner

     

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    Craig Donato, Mar 14th, 2006 @ 9:30am

    Just wanted to jump in and clear up some things on Oodle...

    > 1. Unlike Oodle and other services, Vast actually links back to
    > the source - no scraping here. So there is an incentive for
    > the content publishers to have Vast pick up and distribute
    > their content.

    Oodle points directly to listings on other sites (and don't frame it when we link off to it). That's why we've been so well received by classified publishers (with the notable exception Craiglsist).

    > 2. Vast is unlike these other services because instead of a
    > human-edited directory of sources, it crawls the whole web
    > and extracts information out of the long tail (one point Naval
    > told me which I didn't post to Techcrunch was that over 50%
    > of their listings are from the long tail of the web). So this
    > means that they are not reliant on a handful sites for their
    > content

    For what it's worth Oodle takes a hybrid approach to our crawling strategy...

    > 3. Vast is not trying to become a destination, its job is to find
    > all these listing from all over the web, regosnise the content > and categorise it, then syndicate it to other sites. So oodle would
    > be using Vast as a source and building the comparison
    > value-add on top of that.

    We are trying to be a destination as a search engine. But we also offer up an API to partners to integrate our listings on to their sites. Check out houston.backpage.com for an example.

     

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    Keith Hollins, Mar 14th, 2006 @ 11:00am

    My two cents..

    If people want to take someone else's content and build a business around that then any review/any promotion of that company should clearly mention.. What exactly are the features beyond "search" that make it valuable for consumer. Having one beast of Google is okay..consumers also need it. But after that it is traffic through our brand name and our visitors.. No publisher or user wants to create this extra middle tier..Btw, one of the commenters has very interesting point (hollow buzz word completely out of context) - "Long Tail" in Internet classified space (!) Lastly, if you want anyone to get interested in your platform then Either you should provide readily available dollars (such as eBay) Or Have it open source

     

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    anonymous, Mar 14th, 2006 @ 11:32am

    Agree with Keith, Nik's points are useless

    Keith you said the exact thing I thought of when reading Nik's point on longtail. It really suggested how shallow his knowledge of long tail is and is a perfect example of using it as a buzz word.

    And Nik, Vast is definitely competitive to Edgeio as well as Oodle, but not Blogbuy I would say as Blogbuy is more like Andale in the auction space. If you think Edgeio or Oodle can add value on top of Vast's listing, lets see what your tangible thoughts are about those points. And I would really like to understand what is the long tail of classifieds. Please elaborate.

    Additionally, I would agree with Oodle's model of hybrid crawling strategy because classified are posted and used largely from trusted sources only and thats not about to change for a long time. Also crawling a few billion pages sounds ridiculous because a major percentage of that is hardly relevant to classifieds. Aren't you wasting resources with this? Isn't edgeio wasting resources to crawl 25m blogs and find a few thousand listings - many of which look like someone has taken a feed and posted it. And the spam is yet to begin.

    Please research and be sure of your thoughts before saying "Just to clear up some points you raised" to techdirt. This is not the techcrunch audience you are interacting with :)

     

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  •  
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    Nik Cubrilovic, Mar 14th, 2006 @ 3:39pm

    The long tail is picking up classifieds from the smaller sources - plot 'number of listings on this site' up the y-axis, and plot the sites across the x-axis and you get a long tail. Sites that depend on human intervention to parse and verify sources can't scale - so to get more listings efforts are focused on the top-end of that graph

    "Aren't you wasting resources with this?"

    I am sure they will take your advice onboard.

     

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  •  
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    Mike (profile), Mar 14th, 2006 @ 7:18pm

    Does the long tail really matter?

    The thing is, I'm not sure "the long tail" really makes sense the way you describe it. Sites like eBay and Craigslist *already* allow for long tail sales. That's what they do -- opening up their platform so that anyone can sell.

    Who are these people who can't use eBay that they end up just posting stuff to their own blogs or whatever?

    I guess I thought the long tail issue was already covered by existing solutions, and don't see how these new ones add very much.

     

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    Rod Edwards, Mar 17th, 2006 @ 9:49am

    Needs Assessment

    Vast is interesting... but. Err - I'm not going to be elucidating my thoughts very well here as I have 2 broken fingers and typing takes forever. Anyway - IMHO the average consumer hasn't been hurting for lack of classifieds volume (which vast offers in spades, and which can be found already via ebay, local papers, gbase, oodle, etc), but relevance/context/credibility. MS Expo is one approach to creating a value-added meta-layer to classifieds - building relationships and "trust" into the transaction. My own side project - http://blockrocker.com - is another, using very granular location and presence as a source of value - i.e.: find someone close (on your "block") and contact them instantly by whatever mode of communication they're currently accessible.

    Anyway - an interesting space to be in - good luck to Vast!

     

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    Bernard McGranaghan, Jun 8th, 2006 @ 1:37am

    The long tail does matter.

    The Internet as a mechanism that allows any user to post information to a global audience is hugely significant (only 15yrs ago you'd have been strait-jacketed for suggesting less).

    If a classified is posted on the long tail then both the consumer and the vendor should be thankful for the likes of oodle and vast. Their service is as helpful in classifieds as Google is in normal search.

    The ability for the global audience to find your postings (in this case, classifieds) should not be delegated to a few Brand names such as Ebay who wish to extract monies from the vendor or the consumer. These models would suggest that everybody with a web page would pay Google for including them in it's index.

    Do website publishers despise the fact that Google makes healthy profits while driving traffic to their web pages?

    Sentiments such as "Having one beast of Google is okay" and "the average consumer hasn't been hurting for lack of classifieds volume" make me feel that these posters would have stifled the creation of search engines back in mid nineties.... the average user wasn't hurting for lack of content then, finding it was the issue.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    krKrista, Feb 23rd, 2010 @ 9:34am

    re

    I don't think that every student in whole world has a passion of critical essay creating! Nevertheless, people that don't know how to write should use an assistance of distinguished paper writing service and be satisfied with a success.

     

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