Pearltrees , a company offering a novel interface for sharing and finding content, has raised 5 million euros ($6.7 million US) in new funding. The basic unit of the Pearltrees service is the pearl, which is basically a bookmark. Users can assemble these pearls into trees based around a topic. Meanwhile, Pearltrees is using that data to determine how different topics and bookmarks are related, and allows users to find new pearls (related to whatever topic they’re exploring) through its “related interests” button. Following the lead from Google’s PageRank and Facebook’s EdgeRank, Pearltrees has named its technology TreeRank. In essence, it’s offering its own version of the “interest graph” , a goal that many startups are chasing.
The last couple of months I've been working with a very cool French startup called Pearltrees in an advisory capacity. It's part of my nascent consulting services business which helps me continue publishing and funding Silicon Valley Watcher. I'm a big fan of Pearltrees because it is a fascinating media technology. It allows anyone to curate their own section of the web by using a visual metaphor that looks very much like mind maps: users create a Pearltree and attach pearls to it; each pearl represents a web page or site, a video, image, or even a Tweet. With so much content on the Internet it is becoming very important to identify trusted sources of information and to have people curate sections of the Internet.
One of the more buzzword-y buzzwords in Silicon Valley right now is the "interest graph," which is supposed to connect people and the topics that they're interested in. Lots of startups promise to tap into the interest graph, but Pearltrees CEO Patrice Lamothe says a new app from his startup is "maybe the first time you actually see an interest graph." The new feature, which Lamothe variously describes as "visual discovery" (his pitch to the tech press) and "related interests" (what it's actually called in the app), is included in the just-launched iPad application from the previously Web-only company. Related interests have also been added to the Pearltrees website, but Lamothe is clearly more excited by the iPad version—he warned that the Web experience probably isn't quite as good. That kind of self-deprecation from a startup CEO is a little strange, except that the Pearltrees iPad app is pretty impressive.