European startup Zeef has closed a $ 1.55 million Series A funding round to develop its crowdsourced content curation platform. We first met the company exhibiting at TechCrunch’s startup aisle in September 2013.
Zeef has already raised around $ 830,000 in total in FFF and seed funding. New round investors are angels with online marketing experience, according to the startup. He said he plans to use the new funding to invest in the product, with mobile and location-based search on his to-do list, and to expand his business operations in the United States – by opening an office in New York.
Zeef’s philosophy is that online search is better with a human layer at the top, helping to filter the results and select the best. So avoid the ads, beat SEO spam, and escape your personal filter bubble type thing.
This is of course not the first company to try to beat algorithms for organizing clinical information with a human element. For example, there was the participatory research project Wikia, supported by Jimmy Wales, which was pooled in 2009. While Jason Calacanis’ Mahola, another human-powered research effort, was founded in 2007 but s ‘is transformed beyond after a series of pivots.
Clearly, Zeef believes there is a growing appetite for minimal human-powered curation to help people navigate the ubiquitous algorithmic filter bubbles. The participatory knowledge start-up was founded at the beginning of last year.
Do a search on Zeef and instead of algorithmically generated results you get link directories created by other users who have spent time figuring out which links are good / useful on a particular topic.
Here’s an example of an organized list from a Zeef user that appears when you search for “TechCrunch”, for example – it’s actually an organized list of links related to TechCrunch Disrupt, and a bit out of date too… But if you were looking for a preview of an outage from the previous year, it could actually be very useful to have all of that content in one place:
Zeef focuses on the person curating a list – showing their profile, along with pageviews and clicks generated, so others can judge whether they like that particular person’s curated list.
Here’s another example of a Zeef curator:
“Zef allows multiple curators to compete on the same topic, ”said a spokesperson, discussing the difference between Zeef and other human-powered research startup efforts. “Pages on a topic are ranked based on quality metrics and are not influenced by search marketing or payments.
“Normal directories / search engines focus on individual links that are tagged and grouped by subject, we focus on a full overview of links on a subject by one person to give a full overview from each person’s perspective. “
There is a fly in this anti-SEO online research ointment, however: Zeef’s business model is based on affiliate links rather than advertising.
And while he claims he doesn’t rank listings based on the number of affiliate links they contain, with conservatives keen to generate a higher commission for themselves – there’s a revenue share going to entice them. curators to organize for Zeef – might decide to lard their lists with affiliate links if they want to increase their own commission.
So there really are some ads on Zeef, they just aren’t as easy to spot as on other search engines.
What’s Zeef’s fix to prevent “organized” lists from getting too spammy? He claims that competition from other human conservatives will drive out blatant commission seekers.
“Transparency and competition will guarantee the quality of information: our platform allows a multitude of curators per subject. This encourages the Conservatives not to sacrifice the quality of the information for orders, because people would notice and favor another Conservative, ”he explains on his website.
Curators receive a 50:50 revenue share from any affiliate link commission from Zeef’s own platform. If they integrate their lists – in the form of widgets – elsewhere, the revenue share skews 75:25 in favor of the Conservatives.
So, will commission-fueled, human-fueled affiliate link list curation reform online search for the better? Well, it’s up to you to be the judge.