DigitalScirocco Rolls Out of Stealth, Creates New Marketplace for Web Content

3/22/10Follow @gthuang

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subscription models or micropayments; in effect it gets website owners to pay for content, with the idea that consumers will buy other things from their site.

D’Ambrosio is an experienced entrepreneur who holds an emeritus faculty position in computer science at Oregon State University; his specialties include artificial intelligence, machine learning, and real-time behavior modeling. Previously, he founded Prevision and sold it to Fair Isaac (now called FICO) in 1997. More recently, he founded CleverSet, a developer of statistical technologies for e-commerce sites, and sold it to Art Technology Group for $11 million in 2008. (That was based on about $3 million invested and less than three years of company work.)

I asked him how DigitalScirocco could fundamentally change the Web. “I’m interested in taking away some of the authority from the [website] to be the complete feudal lord with total dictatorial control over his domain,” he says. “That doesn’t work anymore because peasants can go away in a click. What I believe needs to happen is there’s participation between [website] owners to draw visitors, and the visitor community, and infrastructure.”

Whether the infrastructure that DigitalScirocco provides is enough to get lots of buyers on the website-owner (publisher) side remains to be seen. Publishers will want any new content to drive up their sales and advertising revenue; D’Ambrosio says his team is giving them more creative control over their sites. But there seems to be demand already from the content-creator side: the company is announcing new partnerships today with Thomson Reuters, VentureBeat, and BeDynamic.

DigitalScirocco currently has seven employees, and has been on the fundraising trail since last year. “The goal is not an eyeballs and traffic play, it’s a revenue play,” D’Ambrosio says. “We’re focusing on finance, travel, and technology as initial topic focus areas to build up a critical, defensible marketplace mass.”

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com or call him at 617-252-7323. Follow @gthuang

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