Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Jildy, Whose Patents Google Owns and Facebook Licenses, Launches Its First App

When the early social search engine Wowd started to wind down last year, its assets were divided among three parties: Facebook, which “acqhired” seven of its engineers and licensed its technology; Jildy, a new start-up created by a Wowd co-founder and backed by Wowd’s venture capitalists, that also licensed the technology; and a “large public company” that bought the patents outright.

Public records now show the buyer was Google.

So yes, indeed, there is a body of social search intellectual property — around things like user-driven ranking of Web pages and a distributed file system — that three companies have the rights to use: Google, Facebook and the virtually unknown start-up Jildy.

Last week Jildy released its very first product: An iPhone app for clustering and sorting Facebook friends and status updates.

It’s kind of similar to Katango, a friend-sorting app that Google recently bought for an undisclosed sum.

The Jildy interface is rudimentary and so far only includes Facebook data, but it already provides some interesting tools to those who want to slice and dice their social streams.

Jildy gives users tools to monitor four types of lists:

  1. keyword-based searches of their friends’ status messages that they can set up manually
  2. algorithmically created lists of friends who are friends with each other (this is like what Katango did, but Jildy users can both read and write to the lists of people)
  3. demographically created lists, like male friends and female friends, or San Francisco friends and New York friends
  4. any lists that users have already created on Facebook

Then, Jildy tries to find out the top five to seven people or topics within each of those lists, so a user can quickly dive in and see what’s happened recently.

In the next couple of weeks, Jildy plans to add notifications. So for instance, said Jildy’s Mark Drummond (the co-founder and former CEO of Wowd), a user could be alerted every time a friend mentions a term like “skiing,” “snowboarding” or “Tahoe,” the better to facilitate serendipitous meet-ups on the slopes.

Other upcoming additions should include Twitter and LinkedIn data. Drummond said he also thinks it’s important to help users edit their friend lists to stay updated as social circles change.

On a larger note, the patent wars that plague the mobile device industry haven’t crept into social networking yet, aside from a few defensive buys throughout the years, like the Friendster portfolio (now owned by Facebook) and the Six Degrees patent (bought by LinkedIn’s Reid Hoffman and Zynga’s Mark Pincus, when Pincus was at Tribe.net).

But all the interest in the Wowd patent portfolio — which, to be clear, has not yet been used to build a successful social search product — shows that giants like Facebook and Google are attentively shoring up access to intellectual property in case social patent wars do break out.

It’s kind of ironic (and maybe even a good thing, if you don’t like software patents) that the two rivals have rights to use the very same technology from the same defunct start-up.

Palo Alto, Calif.-based Jildy has seven employees and $650,000 from Draper Fisher Jurvetson and KPG Ventures. To be specific, it has non-exclusive licenses to three awarded patents and six patent applications from Wowd, and owns three more Wowd patents. Drummond said Wowd is in the process of becoming a liquidating trust.

Photo of Mark Drummond by James Duncan Davidson for the Web 2.0 Summit 2009, where Wowd was first announced.


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There’s a lot of attention and PR around Marissa, but their product lineup just kind of blows.

— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google