Get over Google and the big search engines. Today, "realtime is the hot area of the Web," says Evan Britton, founder of Sency (http://Sency.com).
"Five hundred startups have tried to get people away from Google, and they've mostly failed. But the realtime Web is different," Britton told me, warming to his pitch. Search engine typically work by counting where Internet users have been in the past; realtime applications like Sency use "social media" like Facebook or Twitter to tell where users are and what they're saying at the moment.
Try it: Enter http://sency.com/feed.php; enter "Lidge" or "Villanova" in the box; and you'll see what people are Twittering about those or any subjects, right now, and recently. Britton says he has other sources besides Twitter, but that's the big one, so far.
"We offer a free, private-labeled feed for websites and blogs" to "publish realtime content on their sites," says Britton. It's a "widget", an easy-to-use Internet application, designed to get so many people to his site that advertisers will notice, and pay.
How does Britton get paid for this? "Profit's not a concern. It's getting traffic." Remember that from the first Internet bubble? Only this is bigger. Social media has multi-millions of users, Twitter has raised over $100 million from T. Rowe Price, Benchmark Capital and other big investors, "and we want a slice of that pie. Once I have a million users a month, I can turn on the advertising feed. Once you have search traffic, you have revenue. This is how we get that audience."
Britton is a Plymouth Whitmarsh High School ('96) and Pitt ('00) grad who worked for a string of Web companies, first in New York, where he started at early social media site www.TheGlobe.com; then in Southern California, where he founded and still owns www.SiteLauncher.com, "which is spitting out cash," and plans to return to Philadelphia this fall to run Sency and live on Rittenhouse Square, with his lawyer girlfriend, a few blocks from his parents. His dad, Robert Britton, is chief financial officer of the Philadelphia-based law firm Post & Schell.
"This is about the land grab for Web traffic," said Burt Breznick, business development executive with Adchemy, a Los Angeles online sales-lead generation company, who knew Britton at Pitt and has followed his career in LA. "So, anyone who knows about the Web can set up a site that, once it's up, attracts a lot of visitors and earns $10,000 or $15,000 a month (in ads) for doing nothing." Twitter and Facebook have raised "serious institutional money... What Evan is talking about is the next big thing. It's the thing today."