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Monday, December 11, 2006


Posted Sunday, Dec. 3, 2006If Google is the web's reference library, Technorati is becoming its coffeehouse, where people go to find out what's being said and by whom. Rather than send you to Madonna's website if you punch her name into its search box, Technorati tells you the latest buzz about her career--and her adoption saga. "We look at the world in a different way from Google," says CEO Dave Sifry. "We're not a library. We're the world's biggest conversation stream, with millions of people talking."
To become a player in the search world, Technorati focused on the growing blogosphere, which it defines as more than 60 million blogs, or Web journals. Sifry says 55% of them are active, meaning they have had at least one new post over the past three months. Every day 100,000 more blogs join the fray. In becoming the first successful blog-search tool, Technorati figured out how to mine blogs for relevant terms and how to sort the creative from the crud. Unlike Google, Technorati's search process dumps links that are more than 180 days old.
Over the past year, Technorati has broadened its reach to include Chinese, Spanish and other languages. Just 38% of the 1.4 million individual blog entries each day are in English. A growing number are moving beyond text to include photos, audio and video, so Technorati provides links.
Sifry has also added a feature that lets people who have a blog see how many other bloggers are linking to them and commenting on their writings. It's all about the community, he says. A longtime programmer who coded an early version of the site in his basement just over four years ago, Sifry says he's finding it a lot harder to be the guy in charge. "It's a luxury to be the guy who isn't sitting in the corner office because you can bitch and moan if things don't go your way," says Sifry. If someone else can run his company better, he says, he'll move aside.
To make money, Technorati markets itself as a viral focus group, where product managers can go to discover what consumers are writing about a product or service. "They can't ask questions, but they can listen in," says Sifry. Paying advertisers can buy sponsored links, which encourage Technorati visitors to check out what bloggers are saying about something, like the movie Fast Food Nation, featured in a recent sponsored ad.
Marketers are eager to throw their wares in the faces of bloggers who can spread the word; paid links are a fresh way to do that. "When people dangle checks, you tend to notice," says Sifry. "But we're trying to focus not just on short-term revenue opportunities but on building a great user experience." That's what they all say on the way to the IPO.

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