Fred Wilson, Uri Milner: Is Curation VC’s Big New Thing?

There are some things we all agree are broken. Finding stuff on the
web is broken. The volume of ‘stuff’ has rapidly exceeded the tools
we’ve counted on for the past 10 years or so. And, the speed of ‘stuff’
makes validating new data harder and harder.
Now a number of the web’s most trusted voices (and interestingly,
deepest pockets) have started to embrace a concept that could have
massive ramifications.
To manage, and make useful, the massive growth of content on the web, sites must embrace curation.
Fred Wilson, who’s blog AVC often heralds the changing nature of the web, explored the trend yesterday in a blog post titled “Curation.”
largely invest in consumer web services with a large number of engaged
users where the users create the content. Services like this can become
messy and hard to navigate. There is always a signal to noise issue. I’m
a big fan of curation in these services. Twitter has lists. Etsy has
favorites. Tumblr has tag pages. These are all variations of curation in
services that have a lot of noise in them. Recently Kickstarter
launched their own version of curation called Curated Pages.
And, adding his voice to the growing chorus of investors who value
curation, Russian Mega Investor Yuri Milner of Digital Sky Technologies
(DST) told the Abu Dhabi Media Summit: “I think the next big theme is
basically curation.” Said Milner in the WSJ.
“The question is how do you select what’s relevant for you, and my
guess is that its probably going to be 50% driven by your network and
50% driven by algorithms.” “In the beginning people found interesting things on the web, created
directories of those things. That was the origins of the original lists
and directories, from Yahoo on outward.” writes investor and blogger Paul Kedrosky.
The hand indexed web moved to algorithms, and Google emerged the
winner. “Any algorithm can be gamed; it’s only a matter of time. The
Google algorithm is now well and thoroughly gamed. Google’s ranking
algorithm, like any trading algorithm, has lost its alpha.”
“In short, curation is the new search.” Kedorosky says the rise of curation is actually the re-emergence of the webs
human roots. It “is partly about crowd curation — not one people, but
lots of people, whether consciously (lists, etc.) or unconsciously
(tweets, etc) — and partly about hand curation (JetSetter, etc.). The
result will be a subset of curated sites that will re-seed a new
generation of algorithmic search sites, and the cycle will continue,
over and over.”
So is curation the next big thing, what blogger and trendspotter
Robert Scoble calls the next “billion dollar opportunity on the web.” Or
is it a buzzword on the verge of being overhyped?
William Mougayar says it’s “overhyped”
and cites Gartner Group’s “hype cycle” and says we’re at the Peak of
Inflated Expectations, about to tumble down the cliff into the Trough of
Disillusionment. That seems to me to be overstating the case. But given
the scope of the problem, and the early stage of all of the curation
solutions that are emerging, it seems to me that we’re years away from a
human-filtered web where the things that matter most to us find us, and
noise is able to be filtered away.
That is a day worth striving for.
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