Thoora, a new and promising start-up based in Toronto, is aiming to shake up the real-time news aggregation market. It uses its proprietary technology to identify the "buzz" around the web and puts the spotlight on what people are talking about. By tracking the entire blogosphere (81 million blogs and counting..) along with the mainstream news stories and Twitter - Thoora is able to get a pulse on what's making news around the web and displays it like a digital newspaper. Users can see story clusters on topics such as entertainment and tech and even see stats on the popularity of a particular news item, such as how many blog posts, tweets, etc it attracted.
I caught up with Chul Lee, Thoora's Founder / CTO, to get to know more about this exciting new start-up in town. He mentioned that it all started out as a research project back when he was a PhD student in Computer Science at the University of Toronto. Eventually he got together with a couple of other students (Byron Ma and Kyu Lee) and Thoora started taking shape as a news aggregation start-up. Within a year (by 2008), Thoora had Rogers Ventures on board as an investor and the company started realizing on its vision. According to its TechCrunch company profile, Thoora has raised $4.1 million to date in funding and has 17 employees. They launched the core product at the TechCrunch50 conference held in San Francisco in Sept '09. Here is the presentation given by Thoora's executive team at that event:
Given that there are quite a few players targeting this market, from the dominant Google with its Google News product to niche start-ups like Techmeme, which is a popular automated tech 'newspaper', the key question becomes how does Thoora differentiate itself from other news services, to which I found the answer on their website:
Thoora’s approach to collecting and displaying the most interesting stories is based on what is implicitly happening within social and traditional media – blog posts, comments, Twitter updates and news articles – rather than voting or link analysis. We take into account millions of voices rather than relying on a few editors or A-List bloggers to determine the most important stories. Thoora’s approach is unbiased and uncurated.
The premise and the market opportunity here is huge, and Thoora seems to be in a good position to target it, with the funding and support of Rogers (a major media firm itself) and deep infrastructure and solid tech talent behind the effort. Could this be the Google of Canada ? We'll be keeping an eye out for Thoora. Meanwhile, check out their beta at http://beta.thoora.com/