This is how to milk a stealth startup for all it’s worth.
We first covered Seattle startup Wavii back in July. The company has raised somewhere around $2 million in angel funding from thirty or so angel investors – only a few of which are publicly known. It continues to get a lot of behind the scenes buzz as the stealth startup to watch.
And watch, and watch. They’ve been in private beta for some time. But there are only 100 or so hand picked people using the product, and apparently none of them are social tech types who will talk about the product. They’ve kept everyone waiting. Expectations are sky high.
So what is it? I’ve actually had a chance to use the service, briefly. It’s an extremely ambitious project.
You can think of it as a personalized news site. Which is also one of the things that Facebook and Twitter do quite well. But it’s more than that.
Wavii is taking unstructured news and structuring it. Think of the difference between a post on TechCrunch about a startup and then the associated data about that startup on CrunchBase. Except humans aren’t involved. Wavii is structuring it automatically, and it’s doing an impressive job based on what I’ve briefly seen. It’s also pairing that structured content with a taste graph, something that Facebook, Hunch, Gravity and others are doing in different ways.
Another way to think about it is a news feed, like you’d see on Facebook or Twitter. But appropriate words are linked and structured, like the people/entities involved, what they’re doing, etc. The service is even trying to determine the difference between rumors and confirmed news, and adding relevant contextual data as well.
Like I said, it’s ambitious. Whether Wavii succeeds or fails, it certainly isn’t a startup focusing on clearing a low hurdle.
Investors Want In.
If you’ve noticed a lot of Silicon Valley venture capitalists recently making trips to Seattle, there’s a good chance they’re there to woo Wavii. Most of them probably haven’t seen the product, but they can sense a parade forming and they want to jump in front of it. Our understanding is the company has received a variety of term sheets, some of them valuing the company at tens of millions of dollars.
That’s pre-launch, by the way. Our guess is they take one of those offers. Probably even before they launch. No need to take unnecessary risk, after all.