Home Summize Likely Acquired by Twitter

Summize Likely Acquired by Twitter

Well placed rumor has it that microblogging service Twitter has acquired search engine Summize. Jason Calacanis appears to have made the first public statement about it, though it may have been blogger Josh Chandler as well. We’d put less stock in were it not that Michael Arrington at TechCrunch is getting positive signals on the deal and would not likely have pulled the trigger on the story were it nothing but a fleeting rumor.

Summize is one of the most interesting services on the web today, both for its feature set and its history. Started as an academic research project by Dr. Abdur Chowdhury of the Illinois Institute of Technology, Summize is today headquartered in Virginia. Chowdhury was the AOL employee who posted 650,000 AOL customers’ search queries for researchers to analyze in 2006 – kicking off a storm of debate about data privacy that still rages today.

What Summize Does

Summize calls itself a tool for “conversation search,” and that’s a well deserved tagline. The service’s automatic translation tool uses Google Language tools to translate non-English Twitter messages into English with a single click. It’s access to the Twitter XMPP API enables it to offer on-screen notification of any new search results as they become available. The Summize search API has become the must-have Twitter search tool for all the best 3rd party Twitter clients and services.

The experimental “sentiment analysis” appears to have been the original intention behind the application’s development. We wrote here about Summize almost a year and a half ago when it was focused on combining sentiment analysis and heat maps with search results. Summize also had a short lived deal with the Huffington Post, where story tags were accompanied by related search results from Twitter. Model startup GetSatisfaction is using Summize similarly.

Enter any search term and Summize will analyze the emotional nature of recent discussions of that term on Twitter. It’s unclear how well developed the sentiment analysis tool really is, Chowdhury has also long worked on spam control and duplicate detection.

Market Context

This is the second case of a micro-service related to Twitter being acquired by another startup. When video conversation startup Seesmic bought leading Twitter client Twhirl in April, it was probably a deal that gave Twhirl’s single developer a job more than it was anything else. It was a groundbreaking deal none the less. For Twitter itself to buy an angel funded project like Summize (TechCrunch reports Summize has $750k in the bank) is a radically different deal.

While cynics are concerned that the deal will lead to Twitter breaking Summize (!) we think it will instead lead to Twitter’s more rapid iteration of advanced features – something Twitter has needed almost as badly as it’s needed increased up time. Core development of Twitter has crawled in recent months as everyone there has appeared to focus on fixing the service itself. As enthusiastic Twitter users, we’re excited to see some more features enter the mix.

For now we await official comment from members of either company. Allen Stern has a nice video of a presentation about Summize given by the company, over on CenterNetworks.

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