There was news this week about the formation of Bloomberg Beta, a new venture capital fund sponsored by data company Bloomberg LP. One of Bloomberg Beta’s early investments is a company called Newsle, that will alert you whenever someone you specify – a friend or colleague – is in the news. This is a tough nut to crack. Searching thousands of news sources and trying to determine if the John Smith mentioned in an article is the same John Smith of interest to you is a complex undertaking. But what really intrigued me is that those who have written about Newsle see another major problem that the company faces: lack of activity. Think about it. If you import your list of Facebook friends (something Newsle encourages you to do), the chances of any of them appearing in news stories is pretty low. That means most people will sign up for Newsle and nothing will happen, not because Newsle isn’t working, but because there is no news to report. It’s hard to establish the value of your service if you’re not delivering at least a little something every now and then.
That’s why in addition to your Facebook friends, Newsle also encourages you to import your LinkedIn contacts, and while you are at it, your address book as well. Somewhat incongruously, Newsle also encourages you to follow politicians and celebrities. The hope is the more people you track, the more likely you’ll get hits.
But what if Newsle flipped its model? Instead of serving individuals who for the most part have small lists of mostly boring contacts, why not hook up with commercial data publishers, many of whom have tens and even hundreds of thousands of contacts in their databases? Publishers could then send real-time alerts out to their subscribers who are interested in specific people or any activity relating to executives at a given company. In addition to sales intelligence, these news alerts could also provide a basis for making contact with a prospect. Plus, publishers could database these news events to build deep profiles on company executives that would have evergreen value.
This could be a great opportunity for Newsle to crack its volume problem, and for data publishers to add in high-value alerting services and historical data all in one fell swoop.
That’s powerful, people!