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Russian recommendation engine Surfingbird announced that it has raised $2.5 million from Russian and French business angels.
Surfingbird allows users to rate websites, add links and rate existing links available in the system. Based on the user’s preferences, the tool, which is powered by complex algorithms, makes recommendations on content that might be of interest to the user.
The founders, the CEO of the company Sergey Shalaev and its CTO Dmitry Shalashov compare the company with Stumbleupon in terms of value proposition although the engine behind it is unique.
The company was established in 2011 when the founders discovered that such a service was not available in Russia and many other European countries.
The founders have collective working experience at Yandex, Mail.ru and Parallels, the most well known Russian technology and internet companies. They met their angel investor Pierric Duthoit while working together at the WomanJournal.ru where Duthoit’s was a CEO. According to Duthoit, other foreign angel investors have backgrounds in the brick and mortar industry. Now 10 people are working on this project.
Surfingbird, currently available in Russian and will soon release its English version Surfingbird.com, which is currently occupied by the cybersquatters. It will also be translated into other major European languages. “The technology itself is language-independent and our approach appears to be working abroad,” says Duthoit.
The big plan of the company is to enter Eastern and Western European markets where the niche is currently wide open. But first the technology will be tested in Runet, where Surfingbird already has 30 000 registered users.
Here is my experience with Surfingbird so far: I started testing the service on the subject of “technology”. I did not add any of my own links but I was offered to look at a number of Russian articles covering global technology news. A few clicks later, I was taken into the gadget’s area which was not what I wanted either. Suddenly, English pages began to appear and finally, after 20-30 dislikes and 2-4 likes, I started seeing content that was actually relevant.
The company previously attracted 400 000 US Dollars in the first round. Company founders own 19% of the company. In the recent round the company was valued at $4.9 million post-money.
In conclusion a random tidbit shared with me by Dmitry Shalashov. The company office in Moscow has a fireplace and a terrace where they get together and grill their lunch. And its is a bargain, by the Moscow standards. I do hope that its link recommendations service is not as random.
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