San Francisco-based Sphere’s only been around for three months, but it’s already locked down two important deals. Both deals leverage its “Sphere It” technology, which performs a semantic analysis on the text within the page being searched and returns blog results that it finds relevant to the article.
In May we wrote about Sphere’s deal with Time.com. Next week, Sphere will announce a deal with the New York Times subsidiary About.com to embed the core Sphere It technology within About.com articles.
Unlike the Time.com deal, About.com will only use the technology to sort through it’s own content. The results can be seen under the main text of articles, under the heading “Related Articles.” See here for an example.
The two companies have been in an extended year long paid test of the technology (using it long before the core Sphere search engine launched). According to Sphere CEO Tony Conrad, the test performed so far above expectations that About.com has agreed to a long term deal to license the technology.
Competitor Technorati has its own deals with major partnerships like the Wall Street Journal Online, Washington Post and Newsweek. Those deals, however, point to blogs posting on a specific article, whereas Sphere It focuses on the content itself, finding similar articles regardless of whether or not they’ve linked to the original source. See this post for a longer description of the difference between what the two companies offer (frankly, both are useful, although Sphere It is better for newer content that has few links in).