Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

Social Search Start-Up Topsy Nabs Cisco Exec as CEO

Topsy Labs, a start-up that’s building a business around a real-time social search and analytics platform, has hired Duncan Greatwood, an executive from Cisco Systems, as its new CEO. Greatwood had been the founder and CEO of PostPath, a maker of collaboration and calendaring software that was acquired by Cisco for $215 million in 2008.

Topsy’s co-founder and now former CEO, Vipul Ved Prakash, will remain the company’s main technical guru while he becomes CTO, and will run platform and product engineering.

Greatwood’s job will be to scale the company up, which sounds like it will be interesting. I talked with Greatwood and Prakash yesterday, which was Greatwood’s first day on the job.

With so much social data being created on Facebook and Twitter and so many other places, Topsy was built to index it all and make it searchable, and analyze it. “There’s a lot of exhaust that’s being created around analyzing social data that applies to so many businesses, from finance to publishing,” Prakash told me.

Greatwood said that what attracted him to Topsy was the fact that it’s a lot more than a search or analytics engine. “It really lets you extract some deep analytics information from a broad array of data sources,” he said. Think about all the time and effort a company devotes to analyzing who and how many people visit its Web site using products like Google Analytics or Adobe’s Omniture. “At the same time there are probably lots of conversations taking place about that company or just conversations that company would be interested in,” Greatwood says.

Sales are starting to take off, Greatwood says, and though the customer base is small right now, there’s a great deal of interest from the marketplace. “We have a small number of customers, but within that group there’s some very big customers, and they’re driving an acceleration of sales over the past few months.” He wouldn’t divulge many customer names, but one that’s already been disclosed is AOL’s Huffington Post. The plan is to take Topsy’s products to a broader market during the year.

Topsy raised $15 million in a Series C round led by BlueRun Ventures in March with prior investors Western Technology Investments, Ignition Partners, Founders Fund and Scott Banister, the founder of Ironport, participating. Its total capital raised so far is about $30 million.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald