Newssift, which was set up by the FT Search unit within the Financial Times and launched in March 2009 was shut down recently after just a few months in full operation. We looked at it from time and time and obviously looked at it closely at launch time, talked to the executive in charge of it (who also appears to have left the FT) and to most of the vendors that supplied the technology – namely Endeca, Lexalytics, Nstein and Reel Two.
But the fact that people like us only looked at it from time was indicative of the problems the site apparently had. According to a source at one of the technology suppliers, the site was sticky once people had stayed around on it for the first time, but those new users were hard to come by and those that didn’t persist that first time didn’t find a reason to come back.
But Newssift’s loss is a bit of a blow to those in the text analysis industry, as it was supposed to be a flagship application of the technology, brought to market by one of the pre-eminent publishers in the world. That combination apparently wasn’t enough to make it succeed.
The thing that reminded us to look at it was yesterday’s acquisition of Nstein technologies by fellow Canadian content management player (and roll-up machine) Open Text for $35m, which seems to be a case primarily of Open Text consolidating its industry as long as it can get a good price, rather than being a deal for customers or technology.
We probably should have been using Newssift daily rather than relying on M&A to jog our memory as to its existence. But we weren’t, and now it’s gone .