Om wrote a nice piece on Sphere earlier today so I guess we’ve launched. We’ll be in private beta awhile, looking for feedback and figuring out a few new features that we’d like to get into the hands of blog readers. Here is a summary of Sphere:
What is Sphere?
Sphere is a new kind of blog search engine that uses an advanced algorithm to discover high–quality, relevant, and timely blog posts. It’s a very simple idea, but really hard to do. What makes us better than other blog search engines? Our new, advanced algorithm:
• discovers the most relevant blog posts as they’re created
• indexes a blog within minutes after it’s published
• applies rich semantic analysis
• makes blogs searchable by relevance or time
Plus, we’ve got a few helpful tools and features to make blog searching a richer experience.
Who is this company?
The three of us (Tony Conrad, Martin Remy, and Steve Nieker) founded Sphere because we believed we could build a better blog search engine. Along the way, we met with some angels with halos––Phil Black, Doug Mackenzie, Kevin Compton, Will Hearst, David Mahoney, Vince Vannelli, and Mike Winton––who wanted to support our vision. So we raised a little money to get started.
At Sphere, we’ve got a nice small team that met through a start–up company called Oddpost, a webmail and RSS aggregation provider, which was sold to a big company named Yahoo in July 2004. Back then, Tony was a lead investor at Oddpost, and Martin and Steve were helping the Oddpost team build contextual content matching technologies.
We’re also fortunate to have a couple of great bloggers and a former colleague as advisors: Matt Mullenweg, founder of WordPress, a blog content tool leader; Mary Hodder, a blog thought leader and blog search user experience expert; and Toni Schneider, former CEO of Oddpost who now runs Yahoo’s Developer Network.
We are strong believers in the blogosphere and we hope Sphere, focused solely on user–generated blogs, will help readers explore it more effectively––and perhaps inspire more people to become bloggers.
You may wonder why in the heck we built this site when there are so many other blog search sites and one of them is Google?
The first part of that question is easy: We thought we could build a much better search engine to serve the rapidly growing blogosphere.
When we started building Sphere, there were around five million blogs. Nine months later, there were more than 18 million blogs. With so many people reading, writing, and commenting on blogs, finding high–quality, relevant content has become difficult. For a variety of complex technical reasons (such as an exclusive emphasis on freshness, or an overly simplistic computation of a blogger’s authority) other blog search services deliver less–than–satisfying results. Our new, advanced algorithm rapidly sorts through all blogs to find high–quality, relevant content that matches a blog search query.
The second part of that question (you know, the Google part) is a little bit harder to explain. Our corporate therapist hasn’t led us to the answer yet, but we think it’s because we saw firsthand through Oddpost that size doesn’t always matter. We like our product and hope you will, too. And who doesn’t love an underdog anyway?
Who needs Sphere?
Everybody, of course! Or, more specifically, two types of everybody:
• those who already use blog search engines, but are sick of the bad results and spam and wouldn’t mind a faster, more feature–rich user experience
• publishers who would like to integrate high–quality blog content into their websites