Companies “Innovation Spotlight” Interview with Kevin O’Connor, CEO of FindTheBest and Founder of DoubleClick

The founder of, purchased by Google in 2007 for around $3.7 billion,  Kevin O’Connor, spoke with me about his newest venture Founded in 2009, makes recommendations and comparisons for just about anything of interest on the web.  Kevin tells us all about, recommendation engines, and future plans for his company.

If you would like your company to be considered for an interview please email editor[ at ]semanticweb[ dot ]com.

Hi Kevin, after leaving DoubleClick, which was sold to Google, what made you decide to start another company?

Kevin: I resigned as the CEO of DoubleClick in 2000, although I did remain the Chairman until the company was sold in 2005. I had spent 17 years working 80-hour weeks—and loved it—but ultimately decided I wanted more balance in my life; that meant spending more time with my family.

My passion for tech, however, never faded. I wanted to find a way get back into the tech world, but still have time for all the other important things in life. So I decided to start my own venture capital firm—O’Connor Ventures—and began investing in promising startups like Surfline, Meet-Up, Procore and Travidia.

I honestly didn’t think I would get back into the tech world as a founder, but I was becoming more and more frustrated by the chaos of the Web and I wanted to find a way to organize it.

 Sean:  What inspired you to start What problem where you trying to solve?

Kevin: FindTheBest was founded out of three fundamental problems I saw with the Web:

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Insights from the SemTechBiz Conference – UK

The Semantic Technology and Business Conference – UK took place in London last week at the Millennium Goucester Hotel, and a number of themes emerged from the two-day event. A few of the sessions are highlighted below, but first, let us turn to some of the attendees to share some of their favorite insights and takeaways:

Public Sector Semantics

Professor Nigel ShadboltThere was a lot of interest in the Public Sector work. One of the presentations that highlighted the Open Data movement was Nigel Shadbolt‘s Keynote presentation about the recently launched Open Data Institute. We have covered the ODI here, and Professor Shadbolt shared some exciting insights and perspectives on the Open Data economy. In his presentation, he referred to a report on which he collaborated that was published by Deloitte Analytics. This free white paper is available for download.

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If you would like your company to be considered for an interview please email editor[ at ]semanticweb[ dot ]com.

In this segment of our “Innovation Spotlight” we spoke with Andreas Blumauer, the CEO of  Semantic Web Company. Semantic Web Company is headquartered in Vienna, Austria and their software extracts meaning from big data using linked data technologies. In this interview Andreas describes some of the their core products to us in more detail.

Sean: Hi Andreas. Can you give us a little background on your company? When did you get started in the Semantic Web?

Andreas: As an offspring of a ‘typical’ web agency from the early days of the internet, we became a specialized provider in 2004: The ‘Semantic Web School’ focused on research, consulting and training in the area of the semantic web. We learned quickly how the idea of a ‘semantic web’ was able to trigger a lot of great project visions but also, that most of the tools from the early days of the semantic web were rather scary for enterprises. In 2007 we experienced that information professionals began to search for grown-up semantic web solutions to improve their information infrastructure. We were excited that ‘our’ main topics obviously began to play a role in the development of IT-strategies in many organizations. We refocused on the development of software and renamed our company.

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Inforbix acquired by Autodesk

inforbix LogoAutodesk (NASDAQ: ADSK), “a world leader in 3D design, engineering and entertainment software” announced today that it has acquired assets of Inforbix. Inforbix is a Semantic Technology-based product lifecycle management (PLM) company. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Inforbix was co-founded  in 2010 by CEO Oleg Shilovitsky and CIO Anatoly Savin to answer the problem of how to retrieve product data located in different places in manufacturing companies that affects development, supply chains and manufacturing systems. Our own Jennifer Zaino interviewed Shilovitsky last year about this.

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Ontoprise GmbH Semantic Product Line Taken Over by Semafora

Semafora LogoFollowing the news in May that German company Ontoprise GmbH filed for bankruptcy, semafora systems GmbH has now announced that it will be taking over Ontoprise’s product divisions. These include SemanticGuide, SemanticMiner, OntoBroker, OntoStudio, SemanticContent Analytics, and SemanticIntegrator.

Financed by Triangle Venture Capital Group, semafora is promising a “seamless takeover and continuation of the business.” The transition also means that the base of operations for these products has moved from Karlsruhe to Darmstadt. “Innovation Spotlight” Interview with Elliot Turner, CEO of AlchemyAPI.

If you would like your company to be considered for an interview please email editor[ at ]semanticweb[ dot ]com.

In this segment of our “Innovation Spotlight” we spoke with Elliot Turner (@eturner303), the founder and CEO of AlchemyAPI’s cloud-based platform processes around 2.5 billion requests per month. Elliot describes how their API helps companies with sentiment analysis, entity extraction, linked data, text mining, and keyword extraction.

Sean: Hi Elliot, thanks for joining us, how did AlchemyAPI get started?

Elliot: AlchemyAPI was founded in 2005 and in the past seven years has become one of the most widely used semantic analysis APIs, processing billions of transactions monthly for customers across dozens of countries.

I am the Founder and CEO and a serial entrepreneur who comes from the information security space.  My previous company built and sold high-speed network security appliances. After it was acquired, I started AlchemyAPI to focus on the problem of understanding natural human language and written communications.

Sean: Can you describe how your API works? What does it allow your customers to accomplish?

Elliot: Customers submit content via a cloud-based API, and AlchemyAPI analyzes that information in real-time, transforming opaque blobs of text into structured data that can be used to drive a number of business functions. The service is capable of processing thousands of customer transactions every second, enabling our customers to perform large-scale text analysis and content analytics without significant capital investment.

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The Semantic Link with Guest, Nick Holzherr of ‘The Apprentice’ and Whisk – July, 2012

Paul Miller, Bernadette Hyland, Ivan Herman, Eric Hoffer, Andraz Tori, Peter Brown, Christine Connors, Eric Franzon

On Friday, July 13, a group of Semantic thought leaders from around the globe met with their host and colleague, Paul Miller, for the latest installment of the Semantic Link, a monthly podcast covering the world of Semantic Technologies.

Whisk LogoThis episode includes a discussion with Nick Holzherr, finalist on the BBC One Television Series, “The Apprentice,” and founder of Whisk, a recipe planning idea based on big data and semantic analysis. He was named ‘emerging entrepreneur of the year’ by Insider Magazine in 2010, and Birmingham Young Personality of the Year (Entrepreneurship) in 2011.
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The Future of Linked Data at Talis

[Editor's Note: This guest post, provided by Dr. Tom Heath, Senior Research Scientist, Talis Education Ltd., is in answer to the news we reported yesterday about Talis Group's decision to close down Kasabi and the Talis Consulting arm of the business. We are grateful to Dr. Heath and Talis for sharing this clarification with the community.]

image of highway to the sky from ShutterstockFor those who inhabit the world of Linked Data and the Semantic Web, yesterday was a big news day. Talis Systems Ltd announced that it would be winding down its generic Linked Data and Semantic Web activities, including the consulting business and the Kasabi data marketplace. The news is well covered on and Inevitably there was a degree of fallout across social media, with some reporting the news as Talis abandoning Linked Data and the Semantic Web. This isn’t really the case. Let’s look at why, and what the future holds for Linked Data and Semantic Web ideas and technologies at Talis.

In summary this is a story about horizontal and vertical. Talis Group has pursued both for some years, the former through the generic Linked Data consulting and hosting services of Talis Systems, and the latter through Talis Education — home of the Talis Aspire SaaS application for universities, which I wrote about in the Linked Data Book as an exemplar of a native read/write Linked Data application. The product is currently sold to one third of UK universities, creating a user base of up to 750,000 academics and students.
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Talis Ends Consulting Business; Winds Down Kasabi

Talis LogoIn a series of statements over the weekend, Leigh Dodds, who has served as CTO of both Talis Systems (part of Talis Group) and of spin-off data marketplace Kasabi, announced that the company is closing their consulting business and winding down the two-year old Kasabi. This news is not surprising, perhaps, to industry insiders who have watched in recent months as several key members of the leadership team have left the organization. The Talis education group and product, Talis Aspire, will continue.

While noting some of the many successes they have had over the years, Dodds acknowledged “…there is a limit to how much one small organisation can achieve. In our view, the commercial realities for Linked Data technologies and skills whilst growing is still doing so at a very slow rate, too slow for us to sustain our current levels of investment.”

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A Simple Tool in a Complex World: An Interview with Zemanta CTO Andraz Tori


Andraz Tori is the Owner and Chief Technology Officer at Zemanta, a tool that uses natural language processing (NLP) to extract entities within the text of a blog and enrich it with related media and articles from Zemanta’s broad user base.    This interview was conducted for Part 3 of the series “Dynamic Semantic Publishing for Beginners.”

Q. Although the term “Dynamic Semantic Publishing” appears to have come out of the BBC’s coverage of the 2010 World Cup, it looks as though Zemanta has been applying many of the same principles on behalf of smaller publishers since 2008.  Would you characterize it this way, or do you think that Zemanta is a more limited service with specific and targeted uses, while the platform built by BBC is its own semantic ecosystem?  How broadly should we define Dynamic Semantic Publishing?

A. What Zemanta does is empower the writer through semantic technologies. It’s like having an exoskeleton that gives you superpowers as an author. But Zemanta does not affect the post after it was written.   On the other hand dynamic semantic publishing is based on the premise of bringing together web pages piece-meal from a semantic database, usually in real time.

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