Pierre Omidyar left eBay long ago to become a billionaire philanthropist and angel investor, but he is taking on an operational role in a new startup called Peer News. It operates a Twitter app called Ginx currently in “private pre-alpha.” That means nobody but Pierre and a few pals are supposed to know about it. But Dan Primack at PEHub found an SEC filing indicating that Peer News has raised about $2 million, and it lists Omidyar himself as part of the executive team. He is also an investor.
I have been able to confirm separately that Omidyar is indeed a co-founder of the company along with Randy Ching. Peer News is based in Honolulu, where Omidyar lives, and is geared at making it easier for people to share news links through Twitter.
Ginx is a news sharing service built on top of Twitter. Ginx uses your Twitter username and password for login credentials. I haven’t seen a demo, but you can piece together what it is by seeing how Omidyar is using it on Twitter. Ginx operates as a Twitter client (some of Omidyar’s Tweets are labeled “from Ginx”), but more importantly it is also a URL shortener. My guess is that it is a browser add-on that lets you easily share articles you come across the Web with your Twitter followers without leaving the page.
But it goes beyond that. Most shortened URLs take you back the the original page that was referenced. If you click on one of the shortened Gink links in Omidyar’s Twitter feed, however, it will take you to a page on Ginx.com that is essentially another Webapge re-framed with a Ginx toolbar on top. For instance, the Ginx link in the Tweet below takes you to this Ginx page. But the original page is still getting credit. If you click on the “X” on the toolbar, it goes away and the URL reverts to the original one.
Right at the top of the Ginx page is a toolbar with the original Tweet and a reply button. This appears designed to allow a conversation to occur directly around the article or information being shared without having to go back to Twitter or fire up a Twitter client. That seems mildly useful. It’s what else Ginx will do with all of this data that will determine whether how valuable it will be. Marshall Kirkpatrick at ReadWriteWeb thinks the service will track popular news on Twitter and match people with similar interests.
Keep an eye on this one.