Our regular blogger is out of commission while recovering from surgery. Please enjoy this classic post, written by Margie Hlava, about some early 2000’s start-ups.

Where Are They Now?

May 2, 2011 – Tech companies come and go. There are always tech savvy entrepreneurs with big ideas looking to fill a need in the market and investors looking to get the huge returns that can come from investing in tech startups. 

But tech is risky, markets are volatile, and oftentimes what seems like a good idea is not always as good once implemented in the real world. A good example of this is the dot com boom and subsequent bust in the early 21st century. You could get funding on a back-of-the-envelope business plan. Billions of dollars were invested in tech startups with big ideas and big dreams. Many of these dreams were shattered when investors realized they were not getting the returns they had hoped for.  

The business of providing knowledge management solutions is especially prone to this kind of cycle. There is a lot of money to be made in this market because businesses, publishers, and government organizations are losing billions of dollars every year through inefficient methods of data management and are willing to pay to prevent this loss. On the other side of the coin, there are numerous graduates in the IT field who seem to think they have the solution to everyone’s problem. Combine this with the fact that just about every investor wants to get into tech and you have a “perfect storm” of startups offering solutions in search, indexing and semantic enrichment of some sort or another. 

The unfortunate truth, however, is that data management is a tough business to learn, to get into, and to maintain. New startups offering “the next big thing” fail to catch on amidst a sea of competitors and ultimately go out of business. 

Take Groxis, for example. Groxis was a search company that started in 2001 with much fanfare as the cool new entry in the field. Groxis offered search solutions through its search engine Grokker. Groxis’ partners and customers reportedly included Sun Microsystems, Stanford University, FAST Search & Transfer, EBSCO Information Services, the Internet Public Library, and Amgen, as well as Yahoo!, Google, and Amazon. The company survived the dot com bust, but closed its doors in 2009 due to a lack of funding.  

Another example is TermTree. Started in 1999, TermTree offered classification and thesaurus management through its software of the same name. After only eleven years in business, TermTree has been shut down and is no longer available for purchase. 

WebChoir was around as recently as 2006 and offered the WebChoir Vocabulary Server which was a set of tools for building controlled vocabularies. It was the only way to really get hold of the fine Getty Vocabularies for a while. This company is now nowhere to be found. Internet searches reveal no information on what became of WebChoir.

When searching for a solution to buy, especially a big ticket items like knowledge management software, the stability and longevity of a company is of critical importance when making a decision. You want to make sure the company you’re buying from has experience in the field,  that the solution actually works, can do a pilot or a test of your own data, and will be around for years to come to provide you with support and updates. 

Access Innovations is known as the leader in database production, standards development, creating and applying taxonomies, the back room operation of many well known companies. We are a privately owned company founded in 1978 that offers an extensive line of information management, database construction products, and services for academic institutions, government agencies, and industry. To learn more about Access Innovations, visit www.accessinn.com

Marjorie M.K. Hlava