Growth Matters: OneRiot Aims to Draw a Crowd With Social-Media Search

With Twitter's explosion in popularity, the new companies emerging in the microblogging site's ecosystem may stand a good chance of riding on Twitter's success. One interesting outfit is OneRiot, which lets users search real-time information, such as Twitter feeds and Facebook posts.

"Users search OneRiot to find the news, stories, and videos that people are buzzing about right now for any topic," says Courtney Walsh, its media-relations manager.

Taking the Social Web's Pulse

OneRiot believes it has a big competitive advantage over Google (GOOG) in providing better real-time search. Tobias Peggs, OneRiot's general manager, explains: "During the 2009 Iranian elections, if a user had done a search on "Iran elections", Google would have returned Iran's Wikipedia page as the top result. By contrast, OneRiot returns much more current results -- such as Twitter feeds from people participating in street protests, videos, photos, and relevant news stories."

The disparity arises from differing ways of indexing and ranking Web pages. "Google crawls the Web and indexes content based on the number of links. OneRiot listens to activity on the social web such as Facebook, Twitter, and Digg," says Peggs.

"While Google ranks results using page rank [the number of inbound links to content], OneRiot ranks in a new way -- what we call pulse rank," notes Peggs. "Pulse rank is a measure of the social buzz around a piece of content, which includes the number of people sharing the content, the credibility of the individuals sharing that content, and the change in its ranking compared to the previous 30 seconds."

Real-Time Monetization

OneRiot has changed focus since its founding. According to Walsh, "OneRiot started first as a browser add-on company -- known as Me.dium -- that allowed friends to surf the Internet with each other to find the hottest information online. That transitioned to a search experience in November, 2008, with the official launch of OneRiot real-time search."

The company attributes its growth to its network of 130 partners. Walsh explains: "OneRiot has a vast partner network of browser add-ons, search engines, applications, and mobile providers who offer their users real-time search powered by OneRiot. This vast partner network has allowed our service to grow quickly."

Peggs adds: "Our business isn't just at We syndicate search results and advertisements though 130 partners to Twitter desktops and lots of mobile sites."

OneRiot is starting to generate advertising revenue. It has "recently introduced the first monetization strategy for the real-time Web. Our ad network is called RiotWise," says Walsh.

It's not clear whether OneRiot will be able to generate enough revenue to sustain itself. But if RiotWise gets enough traffic, could that spark some Google interest in buying OneRiot?