SiliconFilter

With 5 Million More Euros in the Bank, Pearltrees Gets Ready to Scale and Start Monetizing

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The Paris-based social curation platform Pearltrees just announced that it has raised a Series B round of 5 million Euros (about $6.62 million USD). The money is coming from Group Accueil, which had also invested in the service’s previous round. In total, Pearltrees has now raised 8.5 million Euros. The company, which launched its first alpha almost 3 years ago, aims to use this money to scale its product and – maybe even more importantly – implement a freemium business model for its service.

The company did not publicly discuss what exactly this freemium model will look like.

Pearltrees is probably best known for its highly visual interface to its collaborative curation service. Some of the most interesting technology the team has developed, however, actually powers the discovery mechanism that is slowly becoming a more important part of the user experience (especially in Pearltrees’ recently released iPad app). This so-called “TreeRank” algorithm – named after the way you organize your bookmarks/pearls on the site – allows the company to interpret and expose the interest graph its users generate through their bookmarking  activity on the site.

Pearltrees, according to its own data, had about 1 million unique visitors in January, which accounted for about 30 million pageviews. In total, about 350,000 contributors now use the site. Interestingly, only about 25% of Pearltrees users are American.

Pearltrees and Pearltrees story / Pearltrees development / Ecosysteme in Patrice Lamothe (Patrice)



11:00 pm


Scoop.it Launches Mobile App, Lets You Curate On the Go

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"Curation" was, without a doubt, one of the hot topics of 2011 and one that will surely keep us occupied in 2012 as well. Scoop.it is one of the companies in this space that caught my attention quite a while ago and that has – without much hype – quietly build a great service for those who want to collect and publish all the interesting things they find online. With a focus on simplicity and efficiency, the service has found quite a few dedicated fans since launch and the company is now taking its service mobile with the launch of its iPhone app. Indeed, Scoop.it argues that mobile is the "natural form of mobile publishing."

If you are not familiar with Scoop.it, here is a short video that explains the basic ideas behind the service: 

As you would expect, the mobile app brings all of these feature to the iPhone. You can use both the service's own recommendation engine to find "scoopable" content, or install the mobile bookmarklet in Apple's Safari browser. Installing bookmarklets on iOS is a bit of a hassle, but well worth the effort if you plan to use Scoop.it regularly (and the app provides you with helpful setup instructions as well).

Once you publish your finds, Scoop.it will add them to its magazine-like pages. Unlike other service (including the red-hot Pinterest), the service doesn't focus so much on visual content (though you can obviously add images to your posts), but puts an emphasis on text. 

Professional users can also opt for a paid account ($79/month), which allows you to use your own domain name and provides you detailed analytics and support for multiple administrators/curators.

Scoop it mobile

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10:08 pm


Pearltrees Finds its Natural Home on the iPad

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Pearltrees, the Paris-based curation and discovery startup, just launched its long-awaited iPad app earlier this week. The company’s service allows users to bookmark interesting websites and arrange them into hierarchically organized tree structures – or “pearls” in the company’s parlance. I’ve been a fan of Pearltrees ever since I first met the team in Paris about two years ago and have been using their service here for my daily “Catching Up” posts. What makes the service stand out from its competitors is the visual appeal of how you collect and organize your “pearls.” The drag-and-drop interface takes the work out of bookmarking, but while the web interface works quite well, one can’t help but feel that the touch interface on the iPad is actually the most natural way to use the service.

Pearltrees ipad large pearls

The Pearltrees team managed to keep the interface very fluid and responsive, while keeping virtually all of the functionality of the web app in place. There are a couple of interesting twists in the iPad app, too, though. While the web interface directly takes you to a website once you click on a pearl, the iPad app actually opens a preview of the site with an Instapaper-like view of the text on the site on the right and a screenshot of the page on the left. Depending on the site, the text may only be an excerpt or the full text, but this is still an easier way to browse than having to load the full page on a potentially slow connection (you can, of course, always bring up the regular website, too).

Another features of the app is the ability to find related sites, which works surprisingly well. As the company’s CEO Patrice Lamothe told me earlier this week, the idea here is to show you interesting content based on what the Pearltrees community has collected. He also stressed that users should think about the service as a social system that based upon shared interests and not so much the follower/fan idea of other networks.

Pearltrees related interestes

Browsing and organizing pearls, then, is pretty easy in the app, but what about the actual curation? Apple, after all, doesn’t allow users to install plugins for mobile Safari. Instapaper and similar app all use JavaScript-based bookmarklets to give their users some of the functionality of their full-blown browser extensions on iOS and Pearltrees decided to do the same. While this process is often a bit daunting, though, the app actually includes a step-by-step guide that makes it pretty easy.

Getting Started

The app is available for free in the iTunes store. An iPhone/iPod touch version is also in the works and should come out before the end of the year. For now, the service remains free. Pearltrees plans to institute a freemium model soon, with a focus on private sharing and curation.

 



4:40 pm


Pearltrees Puts Its Sharing Features into Hyperdrive

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Paris-based Pearltrees just launched a nice update to its online curation service that takes its sharing features to a new level. Indeed, the Pearltrees team has decided to call this feature “Hyper-Share” to emphasize that you can now effortlessly syndicate anything you save to your Pearltrees account to Twitter and Facebook as well.

Better Embeds

Here on this site, we’ve been using Pearltrees to curate some of the best tech stories of the day over the last few weeks. To do so, we’ve been using Pearltrees’ embed function. That feature, too, received some nice updates today. Embeds now allow Pearltrees users (and non-users!) to pick the most interesting “pearls” and copy them to their own accounts with just one click. In addition, posting a pearltree from an embed to Facebook now also just takes a few clicks and users can sign up for Pearltrees right from the embed as well.

If you’re not familiar with how Pearltrees works, take a look at the embed below. The basic idea here is that you can curate anything you find on the web and then organize it in an easy to use tree-like structure.

Best of Today (6/29) in Best / (fredericl)

As Pearltrees founder Patrice Lamothe notes, “with this release Pearltrees’ community of curators can finally demonstrate the true value they add by curating content created by others.”

Pearltrees currently has about 150,000 users, who have organized about 7 million links since the company’s inception in early 2009. I’ve been a big fan of the company’s product since I first took a look at it in Pearltrees’ Paris offices in 2009. Making it easier for users to syndicate their content out to other networks will hopefully give Pearltrees a bit of additional exposure, too.



8:51 pm


Scoop.it Wants to Make Curation Frictionless

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One of the most over-hyped concepts of the last year is “curation.” Most curation services, with the exception of sites like Tumblr, aren’t really ready for the mainstream. Scoop.it, on the other hand, wants to make curation as frictionless as possible and allow anybody to easily create magazine-like pages with curated content in just a few clicks. I’ve tested many curation services over the last few months. Scoop.it has been the only one that I’ve really stuck with.

At its core, Scoop.it is really bookmarking on steroids. It’s clearly geared towards relatively mainstream users, but also fulfills most of the requirements more advanced users would have. As the company’s CEO and founder Guillaume Decugis told me earlier this year when we met up at SXSW, he sees two major markets for the product: companies that don’t have the resources to blog but still want to put up relevant content for their customers and users who are passionate about a certain topic, be it freestyle skiing or tech news.

You currently have to sign up for a private beta invite, but starting next week, sign-ups will be semi-open.

How it Works

So how does it all work? To get started, you simply decide on a name for your curation site (you can manage more than one) and install the bookmarklet. Then, whenever you see a story or site you want to feature, simply click on the bookmarklet and Scoop.it will automatically pre-populate its form with the title, an image from the story and the first few sentences of the text (you can modify these, too). Once you’re done with this, you send the snippet over to your page on Scoop.it and either call it a day or decide where to place it on the grid and modify the size and position of the image.

Scoop.it also offers a second method for curating content, as the service itself will suggest stories to you based on the keywords you have entered for your page.

scoopit_large

Coming Soon: Reconciling Blogging, Facebook Pages and Curation

The service has a number of new features planned for the very near future. The next version of Scoop.it will include the ability to send items directly to Facebook pages and WordPress and Tumblr blogs, an API and a widget that will allow publishers to promote their curation sites on their own properties. As Decugis told me, nobody really wants to have to maintain yet another site, so bringing all of these features together should make things a lot easier for Scoop.it users.



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