Overhype

by Mike Masnick




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.

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  1. identicon
    Craig Donato, 14 Mar 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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