Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Alfred App Gives Personalized Restaurant Recommendations

It’s a merger of two of the trendiest start-up topics in the new iPhone app Alfred: restaurant recommendations and data mining.

Alfred, built by the Stanford PhD-led team at Clever Sense, aims to learn what types of restaurants and bars a user will like based on comparing a few of their inputted favorites to analysis of existing reviews from around the Web.

Clever Sense CEO Babak Pahlavan says he’s hoping for a “Rosie from ‘The Jetsons'”-type experience, or perhaps “Pandora for the real world.” The premise is “Teach it what you like, then put it on cruise control.”

Alfred is all recommendations and no direct search, so users will have to be in a sort of lean-back-and-explore mode to enjoy the experience. What seems most useful is that you could teach the app about your local favorites and then get personalized recommendations when you travel to a new city.

Alfred was actually the dummy name for a test version of the app, but it’s gotten enough traction (20,000 downloads over the past weekend) that Clever Sense is scrapping the intended launch name, Seymour. That’s still incredibly small potatoes next to market leaders like Yelp and Google Places and even Foursquare, but unplanned growth is at least a good omen.

Mountain View, Calif.-based Clever Sense has 10 employees and $1.6 million worth of funding.

(Alfred, by the way, is already the name of a Mac application launcher app, which could potentially be confusing.)

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work