Trackle's New Trick: Human-Powered Discovery

Real-time news and events get a ton of love and attention these days, but there are many other types of information we’d rather see current than stale. Sunnyvale, Calif.-based startup Trackle today is harnessing the power of its growing alerts service to build a “human-powered discovery” service for that kind of information: new job postings, flight prices, home listings, local events and more.

Trackle, which launched in February, enables users to set up alerts — emails, SMS and the like — to put regular queries through other sites’ APIs for their aggregated information, for instance Simply Hired for jobs or CrimeReports for crime. Now CEO Pavan Nigam thinks other users will benefit from others’ searches, so he’s exposing community features that show which user set up each alert, and what other things they’re tracking. It might be a little dodgy to make users’ activities more public after the fact (hello, Facebook), but Nigam says he’s protecting against that by allowing users to make alerts private, and automatically making private any alerts having to do with a specific address.

He thinks people will benefit from viewing “trackles” that other users have honed for credible sources and key terms. Personally I think a database of things other people track might be more voyeuristically interesting than useful, but I’m excited to see Trackle expand and include even more data sources than it already does.

Trackle has nearly 100,000 users, which is still fairly small, but it’s already generating 2 million alerts per day. The most common thing users track on the system is crime, and (of course) right after that is vanity searches. Trackle plans to have dual business models of affiliate revenue and premium tracklets for professionals who want to manage multiple alerts and monitor statistical trends (that’s supposed to be coming next month).