Brit/US entrepreneur Michael Birch has not been resting since exiting from Bebo recently. He’s invested in a new startup which launched today, founded by former TV-producer Edward Baker, an ex-TV producer. But this is not your obvious startup – dictionaries are not exactly hot right now. So why do another one?
Birch and Baker think different. Wordia.com – fittingly launched today at the house of Dr Samuel Johnson, who compiled the world’s first dictionary 253 years ago – is, effectively (as Birch describes it) “Dictionary.com meet Youtube meets Wikipedia”. It combines a textual dictionary from partner Harper Collins with user-generated videos both from any user and profesionally produced videos featuring celebrities. Users edit, submit and rate definitions on relevance, accuracy or humour. The launch site has 76,000 words and 120,000 definitions, and another 21,000 word thesaurus entries. And the user-definitions are sarting to flood in, like this one. The project is also supported by the Open University and the National Literacy Trust. This is only in English right now. Wordia pulls in videos which are held on the site and also spun out to YouTube via their API. And if Harper Collins pulled out they still have an internal option.
But the interesting things is that it could scale across all languages, and also define new words, like techmeme or Techcrunched.
But the issue here is that Dictionary.com has not innovated, so Wordia is a play against that and has a lot of potetnial for branded content, something Ron Conway described at TechCrunch 50 as a billion dollar market.
I think kids will love this – it ought to bring words to life. It should also be interesting when Brit kids start to face off against US kids about the definition of words. Should be fun.