Trapit is announcing its platform ambitions today, saying it wants to power a broad range of content recommendation apps. And it’s revealing the first big partner, namely Astro, the leading satellite TV provider in Malaysia.
Trapit is based on the same artificial intelligence technology as Apple’s Siri, using it in this case to recommend content (via its web and iPad apps) from 120,000 sources. That might sound like a newsreading app, except that Trapit’s content covers many topics that aren’t related to news and current events.
Co-founder and Chief Product Officer Hank Nothhaft says that technology could be applied to many other use cases. An online publisher could use Trapit to promote its content across multiple properties and networks. An enterprise service provider could create content monitoring and research tools.
“Anywhere where personalization and content discovery could possibly be a value add, we think Trapit is a no-brainer,” he says.
For now, the company is only going to work with a limited group of partners to make sure that the initial lineup of apps is strong. Nothhaft says it’s also important for Trapit to work closely with its early partners so it can learn, “What are the holes in what we’ve developed, in terms of the documentation and supporting material?” Eventually, however, Trapit will probably release an open SDK allowing any interested developer to use the platform.
It sounds like this is also a big part of Trapit’s business plan. In fact, Nothhaft says the Astro deal puts the startup “on the path to profitability.” These kinds of deals could mean that Trapit won’t have to run advertising in its apps, which, when it comes to monetization, is something that Nothhaft describes as “the least attractive of the options on the table.”
He adds that it’s too early to go into any product details on the Astro partnership, except that it will involve personalizing existing Astro products and also launching new ones. And the partnership will show off the fact that Trapit has extended its technology into video — something that will also be incorporated into the startup’s own apps.
As part of the deal, Astro is making a $1.9 million strategic investment.
Trapit is a virtual personal assistant for Web content – “ a content concierge.” The company is born out of SRI’s CALO project, an ambitious DARPA-funded effort to create a next-generation personal cognitive assistant that learns and self-improves.
Astro is an easy and exciting way of making real connections. It’s a mobile app that turns real-life social activity into a game. You can show the world who you are, meet like-minded people or become #1 in things you like. It’s easy, it’s exciting, it’s addictive.