Lijit, which raised $3.3 million last July, will announced tomorrow that they have acquired BigSwerve for an undisclosed sum. BigSwerve, which was formed in 2006, has indexed more than 400 million comments from 3 million authors. Lijit plans to integrate the BigSwerve technology into their personal search engine product to learn more about the sphere of influence that publishers in their network have.Personal search engine provider
Lijit provides a search widget that lets blog publishers offer a way for readers to search all of their online activity -- blog posts, photos, videos, twitter updates, bookmarks, social network profiles, etc. -- as well as their sphere of influencers, via their blog roll. So, for example, say you're knowledgeable about deep sea fishing and someone searches your Lijit for the best place to catch sailfish. Your Lijit might return blog posts you've written, those from bloggers you read, charter boat companies you've bookmarked, and images you've uploaded of fish you've caught, giving the searcher a complete view of your knowledge on the subject.
When visitors arrive on your blog via a search result, the widget also prepares a menu of additional content from your network based on the keywords they used to find your page. (For example, check out this Google search and click on the first result from the "false precision" blog, which is written by Lijit's CEO. The Lijit widget is in the top left corner of the blog.)
"BigSwerves technology helps Lijit further discover the implicit and explicit expertise surrounding a publisher," said Lijit CEO Todd Vernon in a press release. "To date, blog comments have represented a huge amount of user-generated content that has gone largely undiscovered and underutilized."
Lijit plans to integrate BigSwerve's IP in two ways. "Where a publisher leaves comments is an indication of the network of publishers he influences and is influenced by," Todd Vernon told me by email. Currently, Lijit uses information such as blogroll and MyBlogLog to figure out how publishers are connected, but adding comments to the mix will let the company see where its users hang out passively.
The company also plans to use BigSwerve's IP to expand their knowledge of publishers in general, and how they influence one another. "The community of people that leaves comments on a blog or publication often includes others that are not publishers themselves. Think of them as light weight publishers," Vernon said. "This extends our knowledge of these people and what metrics of influence they have on the publishers in our network."
One of the selling points for Lijit to publishers is that the widget provides a bevy of useful statistics about your readers: where they're from, what they're looking for, which of your content they found most useful. (Example stats.) Adding comments to the mix should help Lijit mine more useful metrics for publishers about their readers and how they interact with their blog.
According to Vernon, the average publisher in the Lijit network is connected to 17 other publishers through 1 hop, and 325 via two hops, giving them an amazing overview of how interconnected the blogosphere is and who weilds the most influence (obviously, their data gets stronger as the sample size goes up -- or in this case, as more people use the service). Further, the average publisher has 5 other sources of information, with the most popular being del.icio.us, Flickr, and YouTube, which gives Lijit insight into how publishers are splitting their time. Further, Lijit can also determine on which sources people are putting out the most useful information based on user response.
Clearly, in addition to utility offered to bloggers in the form of a rather helpful personal search product, Lijit is also a very clever data mining project (or at least, has the potential to be).
Via the BigSwerve acquisition, BigSwerve investor First Round Capital will become a shareholder in Lijit.