This Startup Finally Launched After Being In Super Stealth Mode For Three Years


Photo: Wavii

Seattle based startup Wavii wants to give news reading a face lift and make it look more like your Facebook news wall.Wavii uses natural language processing to sort through articles, tweets, videos, and other content, then presents them all to you in a way that highlights the facts and the news events.

Then it provides a summary so you can decide if you want to click through and read the original sources.

This solves the duplication problem. On average today, a single story turns into 126 articles on the web — so there’s a lot of duplicate content.

Wavii founder Adrian Aoun said he loved using Facebook and wanted everything in the world to be presented that way, so he started Wavii.

“When you think about how you consume news on the web today, it’s always through articles….whether they be blog posts, newspapers, and the like. But with a site like Facebook, you don’t consume updates about your friends a paragraph at a time. Instead you are given short visual updates. Why can’t the web have the same thing?” Aoun said.

The only way to create feeds on the web is to teach the computer to read everything on the web.

“Since a young age, I had been surrounded by the study of language. My father, a linguist who studied under Chomsky at MIT, taught me plenty about how humans learn to speak. I realised I could mimic this learning with a piece of software, and in essence, get a computer to read the web, and thus power the product that I wanted to build,”  Aoun said.

The 25-person startup had offers even before they launched. A source close to the situation said they turned down offers from Google and Microsoft a year or so ago.

It’s easy to see why those companies would want cutting edge natural language IP.

Natural language processing and machine learning are not just things you can learn overnight. It takes years of study, lots of complex theory, maths, and years of research to really get it.

That’s why Wavii has been in stealth mode for three years now.

Teaching machines to read the news is a very attractive space. There’s Summly, an app that sums up links, which was founded by 16-year-old Nick D’Aloisio. There’s, which comes from the same heritage of Siri. And there’s Prismatic, which taps your interests and finds relevant information.

But Aoun said that Wavii is different — it’s actually trying to understand all this content and boil it down for you.

Aoun said, “there are many services out there that specialize in making it prettier and prettier to consume articles…and they’re great when you want to lay back and read magazine-style. Personally, I’ve found it more useful to have context, visualizations, and status updates when I want to understand things, rather than having to read a lot of articles each and every time to find out what’s happening.”

Wavii’s also got a world-class list of investors, including Ron Conway of SV Angel, Aydin Senkut of Felicis Ventures, Mitch Kapor at Kapor Capital, Mike Arrington at CrunchFund, Dave Morin, Shawn Fanning, Keith Rabois, and Max Levchin.

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