Rising web star PersonaLogic Inc has announced new functionality and a host of new customers – proof if proof were needed that investors Barry Diller and Paul Allen know how to pick a winner. PersonaLogic’s raison d’etre is a software Q&A which guides online buyers through their decision making process. The software is part decision […]
Rising web star PersonaLogic Inc has announced new functionality and a host of new customers – proof if proof were needed that investors Barry Diller and Paul Allen know how to pick a winner. PersonaLogic’s raison d’etre is a software Q&A which guides online buyers through their decision making process. The software is part decision engine, part editorial. It is innovative enough that the company hopes to patent certain aspects, including decision engine algorithms and ways of handling preference hierarchies. They are non-trivial technologies, says CEO Steve Tomlin. We just don’t beat users over the head with them. Instead, Tomlin wants end-users to be able to interact with the software in a human way. It’s very much like talking to an instore sales person who can figure out where you are in the buying process and lead you on from there, he explains. The ideal outcome is an informed – and preferably lucrative – purchasing decision. PersonaLogic is already working with portal sites, publishers and e-commerce vendors. Tomlin says the feedback, while generally positive, identified two sets of consumers that the first generation of software was missing. One was those buyers who had already narrowed down their choice to the last two or three options. The other was complete neophytes who wanted more information than ever. The new features in PersonaLogic aim to address both needs. For the first group – the already-informed – PersonaLogic aims to offer intelligent comparison shopping. Tomlin explains: You can have us intelligently compare two cars, say a Pathfinder and a Mondeo. The decision engine will highlight and weight the individual differences. For the neophytes, PersonaLogic has introduced Editorial Expert Guides, including well-known financial advisers or categories like a soccer mom. Buyers can opt to be told what the expert would have chosen in each category. New customers for the added-functionality software include Lycos, which has licensed seven decision guides, AutoConnect, which has launched a pre-owned car site on the web, Ralston Purina with a dog breed decision guide and ZD’s Net Buyer for computer shoppers online. These new clients illustrate the two streams from which PersonaLogic hopes to derive its business in the long term. Portal sites syndicate the standard decision guides and give PersonaLogic a cut of the ad revenues and e-commerce sales. The company eventually hopes to sign up all major portals, which Tomlin believes would be unprecedented. The second, more immediately profitable business stream comes from developing and maintaining custom guides for AutoConnect, Ralston Purina and so on. In both cases, PersonaLogic hosts the system itself, so the new functions will be available to all users immediately. While the licensing deals will take longer to mature, they reflect the company’s faith in its technology and in the marketing muscle of its portal partners. When will investors get a bite of this tempting cherry? Since no IPO plans are on the table, it’s hard to say.