The TriVida Story

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The TriVida Story

TechTransform, October 25, 2001: This is an account of how a pure technology got turned into a pure marketing play - with the avid support of the technologists.
A Cool Technology
TriVida was the third venture of a team that had previously created Inference's Case Based Reasoning technology and Quarterdeck's WebCompass, an intelligent web search tool.
By 1997, technologist Brad Allen had come up with a cool way to discover patterns in data in real time, and TriVida had raised a couple million dollars to exploit the idea. But the burning question was: who would buy it and for what? That was my assignment in the summer of 97.
Early Research Proved Accurate
In exhaustive customer research, the crack team at helped me demonstrate that the new online managers were the enthusiasts most interested in applying this technology - in this case to make e-commerce more responsive.
But the company's funders thought otherwise, and the company spent two long years building call center applications while I worked on other projects.
The company raised a final round in 1999 to return to the trail blazed by the early customer research; by then, what we had called adaptive e-commerce had become a mature category known as Personalization.
The New Vision
I was asked to join the team once again, and turn TriVida's new personalization service into a product line and category attack. Packaged as "The Splashlink Network", it was designed to undercut the conventional personalization providers by giving away basic personalization for websites.
By Jan 2000 we had a strategic document that the company had fully accepted at all levels, and was implementing rapidly.
It was just the right amount of marketing sizzle for a deeply technological company. And 'thought leaders' like Guy Creese, a senior Aberdeen analyst, agreed it could be a real and persuasive play in the personalization space, a true killler app. His paper, TriVida Corporation: Faster, Better Web Site Customization via Networked Personalization, came out in February of 2000.
The Exit
That same month, while preparing the worldwide launch of the SplashLink Network at Internet World 2000, we were acquired by Be Free, who ultimately launched the world-class, but more conventionally marketed, BSelect Site Marketing Service.
Who knows what The SplashLink Network would have done in the marketplace? And would we have a different site personalization landscape today?

According to a recent Jupiter Media Metrix survey, 45% of online shoppers choose e-commerce sites based on word-of-mouth recommendations, yet only 7% of companies are implementing tools that allow them to identify "viral influencers" through e-mail pass-along rates.
Jupiter Media Metrix also says 63% of businesses base loyalty on spending habits and order sizes, but only 13% of companies measure customer satisfaction. That shortsighted approach alienates valuable, lower spending consumers who may make recommendations to others.
The December 2001 Customer Service tracking report from Jupiter Media Metrix finds that although 57% of US consumers polled in November felt that the response rate to customer service e-mail inquiries would be a deciding factor for using the site again or not, only 33% of online-only retailers responded to such e-mails in December within a six-hour time frame. Additionally, only 28% of brick-and-mortar websites responded to customers' e-mail inquiries within six hours.
Jupiter also found that 40% of online-only retailers responded after three days...or not at all.
(Thanks to the Iconocast and Ken Rutkowski's Daily Tech News Clicks for these gems.)
Posted January 3, 2001

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