Real time search was one of last year's most-discussed tech trends and one of the leaders of that conversation was real-time social media search engine Collecta. Collecta worked directly with publishers to build an index of trusted multi-media content that it streamed live on its website and through its Application Programming Interface (API) on other sites. Twitter, WordPress and Flickr were three of its biggest sources.
Today Collecta.com gave up the ghost and is now a parked domain. The company made a strong go of it and but apparently despite having a unique and smart product, talent, money and attention - it just wasn't enough.
It quickly became apparent that what the company had to offer wasn't something that enough people wanted to buy. Six months ago Collecta announced it was shutting down its API and moving in a different direction.
It doesn't look like that new direction ever emerged. Two months after that announcement, CEO Campbell left the company to resume his focus on tech investing, according to LinkedIn. And today the site went dark.
It's really a shame. Jared Smith, ReadWriteWeb's main man for all things technical and design, says there's nothing quite like Collecta. "Collecta's emphasis on a search experience that went beyond Twitter into photos and videos made it a great tool to truly watch a story unfold in real time," he told me. "Their embeddable widget, which I used regularly on ReadWriteWeb's event sites, was far more powerful than what Twitter provided and is still unmatched in my mind."
Personally, I suspect that there is too small a market for real time search in the consumer world. Tell a company that you'll search in real time for actionable information about itself, for example, and you could find some interest - but that's a feature not a product and is something that other companies already offer as B2B services. I don't think consumers are interested in real time search, though they are clearly interested in real time messaging and content delivery on sites they already use.
Neither Collecta, nor competitor OneRiot were able to build growing companies around filling this need. The next most likely may be Topsy, which raised another $15m of its now $30m in funding just this Spring. Real-time social stream service Echo appears to be thriving in a related market - that company says it serves up 40,000 real time media items per minute at peak to customers around the web.
Rest in Peace, Collecta and thanks for all the searches.