Gravity Regroups For Round Two: The Personalization War

Gravity, founded by ex-MySpace execs, first launched into private beta last December.

“At a high level Gravity is an evolution on forums,” I wrote when they launched. But the core of what makes Gravity special was the technology to track the Interest Graph: “Gravity has created a new way of thinking about and exploiting conversational data. They call the way they track and predict the relationships between people and things the Interest Graph (a play on Social Graph, a popular way of describing online relationships between people).”

Even though that was less than a year ago, the world has changed dramatically. Twitter opened its data stream to all comers, and Facebook has launched products that focus like a laser on building out their own Interest Graph. As a destination site and service, Gravity had a real problem – getting people to use them at all.

By March they’d seen where the world was heading, CEO Amit Kapur told me earlier today, and the company started retooling to start thinking about the Interest Graph across the open Web. And today, just minutes ago, they relaunched their website to begin to show what they’re working on.

The old service has been moved to Gravity itself will focus on helping users and third party services personalize content.

The company isn’t really saying yet what that means, although I saw a few of the upcoming applications and services today that they’ll roll out over the next several weeks. At a high level they will look at social stream data for individuals – Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and other services – to create an incredibly accurate Interest Graph for a person. That interest graph data can then be used, with the user’s permission, by third parties for content and ad personalization.

I saw my own Interest Graph based only on my Facebook and Twitter streams over the last several months and it’s scary-accurate. And one thing is clear – the conversational data from my Twitter stream shows much more accurate interest data. Facebook’s data is still more of “what I want the world to see.”

Will the company succeed? They still have most of their $10 million venture round in the bank, says Kapur, and a very low burn rate with just 19 employees. And the best companies are always willing to quickly adapt as the world changes. We’ll wait to pass judgment until the new applications and services begin to launch, but I will say this. We’d certainly pay for the ability to use the personalization technology I saw today at TechCrunch to help target content to users.