Boxxet Launches Automated Portals

Boxxet, one of a growing group of sites using human and/or machine input to create dynamically updated vertical portals, is officially launching this week. The company has raised about $1 million to build a library of microsites that compile resources from across the web on a certain topic — say, the television series “The Office,” or the fringe sport ultimate fighting championship.

Year-old Boxxet is run by You Mon Tsang and Dan Gartung, who previously led business intelligence company Biz360 and early “push” information delivery company Milktruck.

Tsang said in an interview last week that Boxxets (said “box sets”) only require seeding with 2 to 4 relevant sites, and then they explore via crawling and links to build a source list on a topic. The only other human input is rating, which results in driving on-topic content higher up.

Boxxet currently has 450 topic pages, and aims to have 10,000 within the next year, said Tsang. However, the company hopes to get to that point without offering self-serve Boxxet creation, so it can maintain quality control, limit spam, and prevent duplicate sites. That seems like a bit of a silly strategy, considering the lengths some people will go to when you give them the tools to contribute online. If you’ve got such a good, heavily templated strategy for keeping sites up to date, why not let them proliferate?

As it is now, Boxxet must win a game of search engine optimization on a page-by-page basis. It faces a ton of competition, from Zimbio to Squidoo to Wikia. These companies utilize a lot more human participation, so they are both better and worse equipped to deal with spam. Tsang admits Google is already providing a large portion of Boxxet traffic, even before it is live. However, he says he hopes RSS subscriptions will keep people coming back.

Boxxet raised a Series A round of $900,000 from New York City-based Ascend Venture Group. Tsang said he pitched the company to investors as the modern version of About.com.


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