Start-up Sailthru wants you to read less

SmartPlanet Feb 12, 2013 Back to press

Vanessa and Kelly don't receive the same newsletter from Business Insider, because predictive technology has determined they have different interests

Thanks to new technology that’s backed by a big silicon valley venture capital firm, what you’re reading online isn’t always exactly what the person next to you is viewing - even if you’re visiting the same Web site.

Sailthru, a data analytics start-up that examines consumer behavior to predict your interests, thinks that you’ll get more by seeing less of what you don’t want. Some investors think that it’s a good idea too.

Yesterday, Sailthru announced $19 Million in Series B financing from Benchmark Capital, the folks who financed tech industry mainstays such as Dropbox, Instagram, Quora, Twitter, Uber, Yelp, and Zillow. The value proposition is saving people time, says Sailthru CEO Neil Capel, and it has attracted big early adopters.

Publishers, including Business Insider, are using Sailthru’s “Smart Data” platform to build personalized content models for every individual. The technology determines the relevancy of a topic or interest to you, and will make assumptions about what content you should be shown. Like a “mini Google,” Capel said.

We noted that it could push individuals further into their bubble of personally held beliefs, but Sailthru has taken this into account, allowing some editorial control. For example, an e-mail newsletter could force through stories that editors think are significant or interesting.

Aside from publishers, the Smart Data platform is also being targeted toward e-commerce sites. Sailthru will expand into unnamed other markets in the coming months, Capel noted.

The platform is designed for multiple data sources, making it suitable for any tech savvy business that is seeking to personalize its customer relationships. The could mean airlines, hotel, or other services.

We’ll be seeing more from Sailthru soon as it builds out its sale force to expand beyond its 300 current customers, and works toward an IPO within the next several years.

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