Free Widgets from ViralHeat Let Web Publishers Track Social Media Buzz

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built its own technology from scratch, from Web crawlers to the software that sucks in data from Facebook and Twitter to the analytics and user interface. “Other companies in this space haven’t built their own aggregation infrastructure, so they have to take all that data they aggregate and ship it off to someone else to process it, and even the raw data has to come from somewhere else. We wanted everyone to have that data, not just big brands and PR agencies, and that has forced us to be really innovative.”

Kadam co-founded Viral Heat in July 2009 with Vishal Sankhla. Both were formerly software engineers at Network Chemistry, a Wi-Fi security startup acquired by Aruba Networks (NASDAQ: ARUN) in 2007. In just over a year they’ve won more than 5,000 customers, and their Linux back end processes 70 to 80 million social-media mentions a day. The goal is to deliver data that’s no more than 8 minutes old, Kadam says.

The four-employee startup is already profitable, according to Kadam. It can afford to give away the Social Trends data because its infrastructure is so scalable, and because the data shown in the free widgets is only a small slice of what paying customers see.

“If you’re looking at a profile for Bill Gates, for example, we’ll give away five types of data for free, but inside the product there are far more data points, like sentiment, viral influence, traffic analytics. All that is stuff you’d have to pay for”—and it’s the kind of information going into ESPN’s pending NFL “Power Rankings,” a kind of living infographic tracking the buzz on every NFL team. “For publishers, this brings a whole new level of relevance to whatever they are writing about,” says Kadam.

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Wade Roush is a freelance science and technology journalist and the producer and host of the podcast Soonish. Follow @soonishpodcast

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