Y Combinator's Snipd Launches To The Public

In the last few months we’ve seen a number of startups that are looking to help you clip small portions of content from the web for sharing and future reference. But most of them require Firefox/IE extensions – a barrier that can put off many users and handicap a potential userbase. Snipd, a Y Combinator company that was in the TechCrunch50 DemoPit, is looking to offer similar clipping functionality but without a required plugin.

Instead of a plugin, Snipd relies on bookmarklets – special bookmarks that can be dragged into a browser’s shortcuts toolbar, but don’t require any installation. And to further streamline the process, Snipd doesn’t require users to create accounts before they get started (they’ll be randomly assigned a user name until they pick one that’s more personal).

After adding the bookmarklet, users simply click “Snip It” whenever they’ve highlighted something in their browser that they’d like to save for later (they can also leave comments to be listed alongside each snip for future reference). Anything that gets snipd will be shown in the user’s “My Snips” page, and can also be shared with friends via Email or through Snipd. Users can also choose to use a follow system to receive a stream of the items clipped by other users (also published in RSS), which co-founder Alex Schliker likens to a “Twitter for webclips”.

One of Snipd’s best features is its ability to retain formatting for text that gets clipped. Most other clipping sites either copy plain text (without any formatting) or static images, which makes them impossible to search. Snipd will usually preserve formatting, so your text will look the same as it did on the original webpage. Snipd also allows users to clip most streaming videos, which can be played back from within My Snips. This could be especially appealing for sharing videos using the aforementioned follow system, as users won’t have to visit a new YouTube or Hulu page to watch the next movie in a feed.

To monetize Snip, Schliker says that the site isn’t relying solely on advertising, explaining that the company is currently in talks to have Snipd act as an instant way to send a web clip to someone’s social network profile or blog. There are already a few ways to do this (for example, Facebook offers its own “Share This” bookmarket), but it’s nice to see that the startup is exploring other options beyond AdSense.

Snipd will see competition from a number of similar startups, including SimplyBox and Sazell, both of which we’ve covered in the last month.