Whatever happened to Moreover? OCT 22 2003
Yahoo! News recently began offering RSS feeds based on a keyword or keywords, making it easy to follow the news about both specific topics like "Apple iTunes" or more general topics like "biotechnology". You can slice and dice the news any way you like. Anil Dash calls this "an obvious and clever feature" -- which it is -- and also wonders why no one has done it before.
It's times like this when I think about all the cool stuff Moreover did in 1999 - 2001 (including Anil's obvious and clever feature), and how much of a shame it is that it never amounted to much.** Moreover correctly predicted that syndication (and RSS in particular), web services, and weblogs would be a big deal and built -- or had plans to build -- infrastructure and applications to take advantage.
In 2000, Moreover had a news portal not unlike Google's current offering...stories from thousands of news sources arranged in hundreds of categories. In addition to the HTML portal, that same news was also available in a variety of formats for syndication purposes, including RSS. In late 2000 or early 2001, Moreover started offering keyword searches on their news database, available in HTML, RSS, and a bunch of other formats, precisely like the Yahoo! News offering except with many more sources and the ability to restrict searches to particular categories (i.e. a search for "Apple" that included only articles in the technology category).
Moreover also wanted to add weblogs into the mix. In collaboration with Pyra, they built NewsBlogger. Newsblogger had two basic features: 1) search for news and then 2) blog it. When you look at the heavy use of RSS and what the most popular topics are in weblog land, it's not hard to imagine how Newsblogger, if it had developed into a proper application, would have been used heavily (the post-9/11 warbloggers would have used the hell out of something like this). Readers become writers. Moreover also wanted to start scraping weblogs and adding that content to their news feeds. News becomes conversations. Really interesting stuff, stuff that's happening right now with political campaign weblogs, professional micropublishing, RSS, and weblog search efforts (Lafayette Project, Technorati, Daypop, etc.).
News feeds via email was offered by Moreover as well. News via IM was available in an alpha capacity. And given Moreover's flexible web services platform, sending news to cell phones and portable wireless devices would have been easy (and actually, they did have WAP feeds in 1999).
Although they had correctly bet on all this stuff becoming important, Moreover unfortunately abandoned the consumer market for the safe confines of the enterprise market, as did almost every other company in early 2001 when the dot com bubble goo was raining down upon the industry. Which is a shame for us because we've had to wait a lot longer for all these useful tools, services, and technologies and a shame for Moreover that they're not at the forefront of this still-developing space, building on those innovative ideas that they weren't able to execute on.
** Disclosure: I worked for Moreover as a Web designer in late 2000 to mid 2001.