General search and vertical discovery

Bambi Francisco Roizen · August 7, 2007 · Short URL:

During one scene in the movie "Bourne Ultimatum," Jason Bourne goes to Google to conduct a search. It's scenes like this that underscore how conditioned people have become to rely on search engines for answers. Going directly to a general search box has become the de facto way to begin the discovery process for just about anything. But with billions of pages indexed (Google stopped counting at 8 billion pages about four years ago), the question has increasingly become: How do you discover what's relevant in the cluttered online world? This was a topic for a panel at the Stanford Summit, held last week. Paul Martino, CEO of Aggregate Knowledge, Joe Greenstein, CEO of Flixster, David Hyman, CEO of MOG, and I were on the panel.  For the three other panelists, whose companies have been around far longer than, discovery essentially comes in the form of recommendations. Aggregate Knowledge monitors behavior and buying patterns and makes recommendations. On Flixster, people recommend movies through the process of sharing. The MOG service recommends music based on a person's music selection. At, we're just at the beginning of recommending relevant pitches to help people discover ideas. While people on share or recommend pitches frequently, our value add at this point is to provide one place where ideas can be discovered. Aggregating and organizing content around innovation, or around any topic, is the first step to helping people discover. Much like the general search engines, Google, Ask and Yahoo, helped to organize the vast Web in the Web 1.0 days, vertical sites are doing the same thing -- simply organizing the content. Some people at the event later asked what the difference is between search and discovery. After all, when you're searching, don't you expect to discover? Good point. But searching on a general search engine typically starts off with an intent to find something. Discovery, as Paul Martino says in this video clip I took of him and Joe before our panel, is about "unexpected and magical" results. 





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Bambi Francisco Roizen

Founder and CEO of Vator, a media and research firm for entrepreneurs and investors; Managing Director of Vator Health Fund; Co-Founder of Invent Health; Author and award-winning journalist.

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