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Boxxet: Wants to be the About.com of Web 2.0



Boxxet is a new start-up based in Burlingame that lets people create pages for particular topics, such as the SF Giants, that carry relevant news, blogs and photos. It is similar to something called About.com. Think about the name. Get it? Box...set.

It's an interesting idea, though the trick for the company -- like for many Web 2.0 companies -- is to figure out how to make people come back after their first visit.

About.com, as you know, has sites related to all kinds of things, for example "the best job sites." Boxxet pretty much does the same, but it lets you the user do much of the creation. For example, it lets you make a page for SF Giants fans.

You title the page, for example "SF Giants," and then you and others give Boxxet a list of up to 25 top news and other sites related to the subject. The rest is automated: Boxxet searches the selected sites, via a partnership it has with Yahoo's search engine, finds relevant articles, and ranks them on the Boxxet page for you. It asks you if there is a location associated with the subject. In this example, the Giants stadium at 24 Willie Mays Plaza. So Boxxet uses Google Maps to show you restaurants and bars near the stadium. Chief executive You Mon Tsang told us he is counting on a community of about 100 readers who will care about each Boxxet, with about five percent of them actively managing the content.

[Update: Once a user creates a boxxet, other users (who registered with an email address) can go in and rank the content there, i.e, whether they like or dislike it, and the system will respond by emphasizing or de-emphasizing that content in the ranking order. If enough people vote an item down, the content will go away.]

Boxxet had 200 subject boxes as of two weeks ago, when we first talked with Tsang. Now that it has launched at Etech, he is expecting some publicity, and hopes to have in the 10,000s of boxes created soon -- though it is still in testing phase. About.com, which was acquired by the NYT has about 500.

What subjects are appropriate for Boxxet? "If it's more than a Wikipedia definition, it ought to be a Boxxet," Tsang declares.

By the way, he says the Etech conference down in San Diego is "pretty geeky," with about 50 men for every woman.

He might send us some code so that 50 or so readers might be able to participate in a test phase of the site. We'll update if he follows through.

This is the third company he has started over the last 10 years, after Milktruck (acquired by Traveling Software, now known as LapLink) and Biz360, a market intelligence company.

Update: You Mon has granted an invite for up to 50 of our readers. Go here for an invite.

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Curious how this is different from Squidoo.

Marshall Kirkpatrick on March 8, 2006 9:31 AM
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Hi Marshall:

The goal of a "Boxxet" for, say, the San Francisco Giants is to have the best-of content (news, blogs, bookmarks, photos, local listings, etc) as determined by the Giants fans. There will be only one Giants site and we expect it to be pretty extensive and well-honed as the community develops around it.

Squidoo is focused on helping an individual create a great "lens" (Squidoo's term) on a subject. In the Squidoo model, the individual manages the lens and is active in making sure it is a great place for Giants fans. In fact, the Boxxet for the SF Giants may well point to the Squidoo lens as a best-of destination.

But we believe that a site can more easily stand the test of time through a combination of the support of an intereted user/fan base and automation. We've seen too many great blogs go quiet.

You Mon
Founder, Boxxet

You Mon Tsang on March 8, 2006 11:54 AM
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