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May 28, 2008

SezWho CEO Jitendra Gupta Speaks on Tejit Buy

This morning, SezWho, a content rating and reputation management service, announced the acquisition of Tejit, a small company providing semantic analysis of user generated content through its discovery engine. The purchase is intended for SezWho to deliver even more precise reputation scores for contributors in an online conversation, honed by analysis of their activity throughout the Web, be it through blogs, forums or other social media.

In advance of the announcement, I had the opportunity to talk with SezWho's CEO, Jitendra Gupta, in a call Monday night, outlining the goals of the service, and how the combined offering will differentiate itself from services like Disqus. In our conversation, Gupta touched on many of the hot elements of the Web today, including distributed conversations, search engine optimization, and FriendFeed.

"Conversations are getting distributed, and the user organization is key," Gupta said. "Not even the New York Times controls the conversation across different sites and different people. Because of the democratization of Web 2.0 from blogs to Wikis, there is no one platform that will be the single platform because of the variety of tools that is available."

SezWho's goal, made stronger with the Tejit purchase, is to find out where these conversations are happening, no matter where they are, and build a reputation score for those engaged in discussion, to help others get a good idea for who they're dealing with.

"What we have to do is offer user-centric organization to where all these conversations are happening," Gupta said. "We say conversations are happening everywhere, but how can we make those better? Everybody is creating content. Who is credible and who's not? What is good and what is not good?"

Some of the core tenets of SezWho's offering are centered around keeping the power, including search engine optimization (SEO), with the blogger. While Disqus is a strong commenting platform and offers its own rating systems, the service has at times been criticized for hosting the comment activity off the blog itself, and instead, on Disqus' servers. For those who care about such things, they don't necessarily get the SEO benefit of the comments, which they might if they used Blogger, TypePad or WordPress' native commenting systems, each of which is supported by SezWho.

"We think there should not be one central repository, but we can instead be a useful benefit to the other sites," Gupta said. "From a Google point of view or Techmeme point of view, it's not clear that the content is fresh, or being updated. You're not benefiting from the SEO value."

The combined offering hopes to help you find out more about the person you're conversing with online, thanks to SezWho's tracking their activity and building a reputation and profile, based on their interactions on the many different sites throughout the Web. Tejit's offering will greatly increase the ability to get context around the data, and show how the reputaiton of one piece of content relates to another.

"We show these profiles around the people participating to show what else has this person done," Gupta said. "You don't want just connections, but credible connections. Who is this guy, and what is his credibility? We have the best reputation engine for establishing who is credible and who is not, and we take into account all the interactions on all these sites. We can interact and provide feedback, which leads to credible content discovery."

SezWho, prior to today's news, had 11 people, including 9 full-time employees, 2 part-time staffers, and a team of 4 engineers in India, and has raised just over $1 million in funding. Tejit is a 3-person company, and in the short time since its discovery engine was in service, it has already crawled more than 5 million blogs for analysis.