Clearstone Incubates ThisNext


Clearstone Venture Partners has been quietly incubating a considerable number of consumer Internet startups recently. First we found some vague details on SPOCK, and earlier this week I bumped into ThisNext, an online shopping discovery company, that has raised $3.5 million, led by Clearstone, of course.

ThisNext CEO Gordon Gould describes the company’s idea for “Shopcasts” as a list of top-ten-style products from online influencers like chefs, and professional rock climbers. The shopper can click through to buy the item and the influencer gets paid. I checked out ThisNext’s site, which is in private beta and will launch August 21st, and played around with the discovery and recommendation features. I’m a sucker for products recommended by sites like Coolhunting and Dailycandy and ThisNext sounds like an easier more powerful way to access that type of data.

The interesting part is the technology behind the service that creates a set of metrics based on which recommenders have the most influence, among other things. Gordon compares some of the features to Flickr’s “Interestingness”.

Clearstone VC Sumant Mandal says price comparison shopping on the Internet is relatively good now, while discovery of items is still relatively poor. ThisNext will tap the “the empowerment of the micro-influencer,” Sumant says. AOL exec Jason Calacanis must think it’s pretty cool too –he’s on the board.


Gordon Gould

Unlike other sites like Squidoo (where lens can be about anything), ThisNext is focused exclusively on product discovery.

In the same way that flickr and YouTube provide a photo and video layer in a blogger’s identity, ThisNext’s shopcasting tools enable the easy creation and syndication of a blogger’s product-recommendation layer.

ThisNext shopcasts let tastemakers/bloggers who are super-passionate about products spread the word in a way that benefits the blogger while enriching the community. Bloggers benefit by being more discoverable and by syndicating their taste/insight to new users, as well as providing additional content to existing users. (Bloggers are also able to insert their own affiliate links and keep 100% of any revenues generated on a user-session initiated on their shopcast list.)

Users benefit by being able to discover and ask relevant tastemakers “what do you use?” We all pose this question everyday to friends and trusted sources to help us discover new products, whether it is about tech, food, parenting, sports, whatever.

But, in today’s active/directed search world where you pretty much need to know what you want to find in advance of a search, product discovery is very difficult. ThisNext’s discovery algorithms help surface products you may have never known about but that will be of interest to you based on what your favorite bloggers like and what has interested you in the past.

IOW, we are both celebrating the individual tastemakers while harnessing the collective wisdom of crowds to help people find products that really fit their lifestyle.

Kevin Heisler

sounds very cool. if you caught the nytimes article on microsoft’s analyst day, gordon’s idea is similar to the way microsoft tv works – with viewers able to pause and purchase products they see celebrities wearing

except in this case, it’s the influencer who benefits, not just the network

jason and gordon go way back … to the early days of The Silicon Alley Reporter


this sounds by turns like something cool and like something no one is going to want to use. I look forward to actually seeing the product! In any case, it definitely sounds interesting.

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