Evri Absorbs Twine, Goes Mobile for Tech News on Android Phones

Twine.com is officially no more. As of Friday, the semantic and social news service has been discontinued, and most of its features have been folded into Evri.com, the Seattle-based semantic information discovery site. Both companies were backed by Paul Allen’s Vulcan Capital, and in February, Evri acquired Twine (Radar Networks, based in San Francisco) for an undisclosed amount.

All along, we’ve been saying the real story is about how semantic and social search are converging, with the goal of giving consumers better ways to discover the news and information they’re looking for. The “semantic” technology involves trying to understand the meaning of search queries, and drawing connections between online entities like people, places, and products. So how are things moving forward at Evri?

Last week, I spoke with CEO Will Hunsinger, who gave me an update on the company and its plans. He says, “We wanted to be as mindful as we possibly could about the Twine user base.” That means preserving the Twine data, including users’ bookmarks, and letting customers port their data over to Evri by downloading Web links and text commentary, he says. Twine has several hundred thousand registered users and hundreds of thousands of unique visitors per month, Hunsinger says.

The main difference between the two sites, as Hunsinger puts it, is Twine let you bookmark topics and follow areas of interest, while Evri uses semantic technology to “search the Web for you, distill it for you, and it’s up to us to deliver” the relevant information. If you want to follow the latest news on the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, for example, you don’t have to do repeated searches for different keywords or set up new Google news alerts. The idea is that Evri understands what Web content is related to the oil spill at a deeper level, and tries to serve it up for you. “We can disambiguate who the players are,” Hunsinger says. “We know that BP is connected to Halliburton.”

The next release of Evri’s software, in the next few weeks, will let people “follow any topic on the Web,” Hunsinger says. And the next step after that will be to “allow users to curate and personalize their experience, and create their own content channel.”

Evri's mobile app (tech news vertical)In another interesting move, Evri has just released a technology news reader application for Android phones called Evri Thing Tech. (The company also has an iPhone app currently being reviewed.)

The tech news channel, a free app, lets you follow developments in areas like venture capital, big corporations, and social media (see screen shot left). This is the company’s first “vertical” mobile app, but Hunsinger says, “We intend to be in dozens of verticals.”

“We think it’s a huge opportunity for us,” Hunsinger says. He adds that the launch of Apple’s iPad and the rising consumption of Internet content and services on mobile devices is giving companies the ability to reach consumers wherever they are—while taking the train to work, say, or waiting for their flight. “It’s hard to search on a mobile device, so why not have someone pushing content to you?” he says.

Lastly, I asked what specific feedback Paul Allen has given the Evri team lately. Hunsinger wouldn’t bite, saying only that “the entire board is excited by the push into mobile.”

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