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Thursday November 11, 2010 9:30 am

Ambitious startup Thingd aims to catalog everything

Posted by Jazz English Categories: Startups,


A Thingd.com listing

Thingd was recently put in the spotlight by the New York Observer, ending a period of intentional un-discovery. 

Thingd-- short for Thing Daemon-- is dedicated to cataloging absolutely every thing there is. Where Facebook managed to offer a platform for people to catalog themselves along with their personality, founder of Thingd, Joe Einhorn wants to do the same for objects. He explains his ambitions. "I think of objects as the last great uncharted territory on the map."
The Thingd team (capping at only nine developers) has been at this for about two years and have already managed to catalog "hundreds of millions of objects in our database," says Einhorn, "and we're adding more than two million a week."


Thingd might just now have become noticed, but according to Tom Pinckney, co-founder of the New York startup Hunch, Internet giants such as Amazon, eBay, and Google are hard at work on the same idea. "Right now it's not clear what the best approach is, or who will have the strongest database," Said Pinckney. "But when one player does emerge from the pack, there will be a strong network effect."

He says that this situation has happened before, most notably with social networks. "Once Facebook emerged as the clear leader, it just grew faster and faster, while others died off," Stated Pinckney. "The same thing will happen when a company in the object space crystallizes as number one."
It is actually planned to have Thingd follow Facebook's example. "We needed to get the database rock solid first," says Einhorn. "Now we're ready to start building on that platform."
Einhorn seems to be taking Thingd in a more focused direction. One division of Einhorn's site, Plastoric is aimed at toy collectors while The Fancy is fashion-centric.
Creator of Engadget and Gizmodo Peter Rojas is quick to criticize. "It's just not sexy." He said.
According to Rojas, the narrowing and focusing of the ideas behind Thingd are essential. "It's just so hard with stuff people are not passionate about," says Rojas. "It's one thing to find users who want to contribute information about a new camera or iPad. It's a lot harder to get people to help you build a database of Aeron chairs, with every model and color. What about mattresses, or forks?"
Despite Rojas' doubts, Thingd has managed to rack up a formidable list of investors including Andreessen Horowitz, plus Allen & Co., General Catalyst, Esther Dyson, Jim Pallotta (billionaire owner of the Boston Celtics), Bob Pittman (creator of MTV), Maynard Webb (former president of eBay) and the scions Eric Eisner and Jeff Samberg.

Einhorn acknowledges the challenges his website is facing. "This isn't as simple as liking someone or making them your friend," He said. "Commerce is at the heart a lot of these relationships, and that can be tricky."



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