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Chase Norlin Archive
White label multimedia search provider Pixsy seems to have gone missing. Pixsy CEO Chase Norlin was one of the first interviews I conducted after launching CN. Chase noted that the goal of Pixsy was to, “build the largest photo and video thumbnail index on the web.”
We’ve written several times about Pixsy — they power the video and image search for a variety of large sites. One of the sites that Pixsy powers is National Lampoon. I’ve checked the video search and each time it breaks (see image below).
Very early this morning we received a report from a CN reader that the search hasn’t worked for over 24 hours. We’ve been unable to access the site all day today from multiple access points across the world. We’ve sent an email to Chase for details and will update this post when we hear back.
Update: We received the following comment from Steven W. in the comments below, “An e-mail has been sent to partners indicating that the “Pixsy API is down indefinitely” and apologizes “for the late notice”.”
Pixsy is a visual search platform that aims to be the biggest by next year. I spoke with Chase Norlin, CEO and asked him about where Pixsy comes from, and where it is headed. Also found out where they came up with the groovy logo. He says that Pixsy is like Flock in the way both companies are innovating a currently existing product.
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Below is a partial text transcript of the audio interview. Please listen to the audio for the entire discussion.
Allen: How about a short bio?
Chase: My name is Chase Norlin and I am the Founder and CEO of Pixsy Corporation. I came from the Internet space previously with ValueClick, and before that InfoSpace. I come from an ad network background. I was in the audio/video sharing world for a long period of time. I built the first YouTube video sharing service online back in 1999, which was a little early as you can imagine. And I built Sony’s first photo sharing venture. And Pixsy is really a combination of both of my backgrounds with the audio/video world and the ad network world.
Allen: How did you come up with the idea for Pixsy?
Chase: We really anticipated that the web would become a visual medium. A year or two ago we had insight that there would be a ton of video and audio content especially in the user-generated area. The business goal we set out was to build the largest photo and video thumbnail index on the web. Very much like a Google except that we are all about photo and video content and we call that visual search or media search. We think that is very powerful because it is an area that has not received a lot of innovation from the big search engines. And image search is the fastest growing search vertical on the web. If you check any search engine, it is always the 2nd tab. It is because it is incredibly powerful and one of the favorite consumer activities. We took a different approach than most others in this space. We are in turn focused on distribution. We are about powering as many photo and video search engines online and could be as big as ESPN down to an individual MySpace user. The content can be completely customized to any site. So it is very powerful for a publisher or partner because they basically get it at no cost and it is generating a ton of new search activity and advertising revenue for that partner.
Allen: How did you come up with the logo?
Chase: My wife designed the original logo. She is a very well known artist and illustrator. It it very popular in Japan as it has a Japanese feel to it. We got more press mentions and pages on Google than companies that have six years on the web. There is certainly a brand element to what we are doing. So to have a destination site you need to have a good brand and a good way to communicate that and get people excited. It is also fun. Most of the big search players take this stuff too seriously. Media search is about discovery and entertainment not necessarily what you are looking for. And that is the reason we believe a lot of the big guys are missing the opportunity for example. Google says we will just apply the same web search algorithms to media search sopeople can find what they are looking for. But in the media search environment, people want to explore and be entertained. We have a big competitive advantage in that we know it is about discover and entertainment and we have fun in the process. The quick summary there is that Google has taken the traditional algorithmitic approach to media search. In the case of media search, relevancy is important but not as important. It is about discovery and uncovering new material and that is the competitive edge is that we take this discovery and entertainment approach to video and photo content instead of just giving me what I am looking for.
Allen: What’s the technology behind Pixsy?
Chase: I can’t get too deep obviously. Team of 11 or 12, all come from Microsoft except me. We have created our own technology from very advanced media spiders, distribution platform, there is a lot that goes into building a search platform that can power other people.
Allen: Where do you get your images from?
Chase: Well that’s a good question. We use a variety of diffferent methods to go across the web to grab photo and video content. And that is what makes our service unique. We can extract photo and video content from RSS feeds. Then we have a global spider and large data dumps. For fresh content, I would argue that we are probably the leader in that. If you are looking for something late-breaking whether it be a celebrity or news, if you do that same kind of search on Yahoo! or Google, you don’t see a lot of fresh content related to your query. If you look at our frontpage today, you see a snapshot of the latest photo and video content from across the web. Over time, you will see us offer many different ways for users to browse and search. Whether it be freshest or latest or by provider. If you look at Google search you can’t search by provider. If you look at our front page, you can search by provider. A lot of the bigger guys have not been able to segment, and because we can segment, we can do a lot more powerful things than our competitors.
Allen: Can you discuss any legal or copyright issues?
Chase: We don’t have the YouTube problem. Why build another YouTube when we could aggregate every single video sharing service on the web and have that be our video sharing category. We don’t have the copyright issue as we don’t host and serve any video content; they are just thumbnails and they are fair-use. And on top of that we are driving traffic back to all of our content providers.
Allen: Can you share some of the marketing techniques you used when launching Pixsy?
Chase: One is if you build something innovative enough, it gets attention. Secondly, we have been pretty successful on our public relations front. I think it is because we have an interesting business model. Third is having a great product, actually it is number one is having a great product that people want to tell their friends about.
Allen: Since you have just reached your first birthday with Pixsy, can you share if you have hit the marks you expected to a year ago?
Chase: I think we have. I started this as a side project. And it started growing on its own and people using it. To the tune where we had some money coming in and an investor who was willing to put a stake in the business. At that point is when I left and became CEO which was last May, and it has only been since June 2006 since we have been firing on all cylinders. Since then we have hit some significant milestones. And my prediction is that it will only moving faster now and that we have a team that is used to working together.
Allen: Other upcoming partnerships, collaborations or integrations?
Chase: Flickr is just one of the content providers in our index. We aggregate all those materials together. We are moving at an exponential rate in terms of growing the index. We will be at a billion plus index likely by the end of the year at our current rate. We want to build the largest media search on the web which we believe will happen sometime in 2007.
The one thing I can tease your audience with is in 2-3 weeks we will be launching Pixsy Power at an event I am speaking at in Monaco. Called the Monaco Media Forum. Pixsy Power is our automated engine that enables any smaller web site or blogger or MySpace user to get their own customized photo and video search engine for their site. We know that people want vertical search.
Allen: What are the top 3 things you have learned since starting Pixsy?
Chase: That’s a great question and a tough one. You just learn so many new things running your own business than working for someone else. When you are forced to do everything to create value from nothing, you learn what it takes to put the pieces together to prove value.
My skill is getting things off the ground and I have always hired people smarter than me. You have to give up control an let the smart people run things. Now the team is off and running and they are in their own control and destiny.
I almost view Pixsy as the Flock version of images and video search. He really took an existing product and hyper-innovated on it.
Allen: What does the next 1-3 years hold for Pixsy?
Chase: Right now we are focused on building the business and driving distribution. We want to build a great business that generates a lot of value. We are talking to a lot of players including investors and corporate partners. Our personal belief is that this will be a hyper-competitive space.
Allen: Whats next for the web?
Chase: Search becomes save. What that means is that people are less interested in finding things they are looking for on the web. I think we start to see a return to pointcast push models that are finding and doing the things you want to do without you having to actively having to do anything.
Allen: What is StarHabit?
Chase: StarHabit is an example of how flexible a search platform we have built. It is an example of one of our verticals and you will see us launch new verticals as they pertain to some of the hotter categories on the web.
Well we have reached the end of our interview with Chase. Thanks to Chase for participating and to you for reading and listening.
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