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Oodle joins the QVC family

It’s been a long time since we’ve posted on the Oodle blog. We’ve been quietly working on some big changes over the last year. And we’re finally ready to start sharing again…

Last year, we had the good fortune to become profitable and cash flow positive — no small feat and one that we celebrated. But we also recognized that we needed to increase our growth rate. And to do that, we needed to expand our focus and capitalize on everything we’ve learned and built around social commerce.

Today, we take a huge step in that direction. Oodle has just signed a deal to become part of the QVC family. We are thrilled and honored to be a part of their team!

No one understands social shopping better than QVC. They master a shopping experience that is truly a form of entertainment, one that’s built around serendipity and trusted storytelling. With this partnership, we can leverage our team and our social commerce platform to help elevate and evolve their online social shopping experience.

Moving forward, our users will be able to continue to use Oodle.com as their local classifieds marketplace.

We sincerely appreciate all the hard work and dedication of the Oodle team — including Brett Bullington — who helped make this happen.

Cheers!

Local Twitter

Today Twitter updated its API to enable applications like Oodle to geo-code tweets.    Now, when someone posts a local listing through Oodle we can help them share it on Twitter and automatically note where the listing is located.  This local context is key for enabling the discovery of local content (like classifieds listings) on Twitter.

For example,  I may use Oodle to sell my car.  When I do,  Oodle will automatically tweet my listing.   Prior to today, this helped me generate word-of-mouth referrals from my network (someone that follows me may want my car or know someone that does).  Now, anyone searching Twitter for a Prius for sale near Burlingame can easily find my tweet (and my listing).

Oodle’s Real-time Stream of Classifieds Listings

From a platform perspective, Oodle has a lot in common with Twitter…

1. We index a real-time a stream of perishable, unique “tweets” (800-900k new messages a day) in the form of classifieds listings. Actually, we do more than just index these listings.  Our real-time infrastructure tags, enhances and prunes the messages flowing through our system.  For example, if someone posts a listing a for “2006 Prius,” we determine that it’s a car listing (hybrid subcompact), year=2006, manufacturer=Toyota, make=Prius and enhance the listing with all the standard features, including a stock photo if one was not submitted.  (In other words, we auto-apply hash tags.)  Moreover, if someone posts a listing that is fraudulent or inappropriate, we have a range of proprietary technologies that automatically detect, flag and remove the message.

2. Users search and browse our stream. Due to the volume and structured nature of our stream, we enable users to quickly slice and dice the stream both through keyword search and by selecting attributes (or tags).   Moreover, we’ve applied our parsing technology to search, so if someone searches for a 2006 Mercedes, we convert the query into year=2006, manufacturer=Mercedes Benz to deliver the most relevant results.

3. Users post “tweets” (classified listings) into our stream.  And the post is a quick and simple process. Recently, as part of the work we did with Facebook Marketplace, we streamlined our post process to make it as lightweight as possible.  It’s not quite 140 characters but we’re getting close. More importantly, we bring the user’s identity into the listing.  So rather than a stream of anonymous content, listings are tied to the identity of the poster (on Oodle, Facebook, MySpace, etc.).  Someone can also see the previous listings posted by that user.

4. Users follow relevant topics in the stream. When you’re looking for a car, you want to see all the listings that are currently posted, as well as new listings as soon as they get introduced into the stream.   With a single click on Oodle, users can easily follow any search (e.g., Acura TLs for under $10k within 60 miles of Burlingame, CA).

5. Users share and discuss “tweets.” It’s easy to share an Oodle listing with your friends on MySpace, Facebook and Twitter.  You may see a listing you think a friend would be interested in — or want feedback from a friend (should I buy this car?).   Having said that, we’re really only just getting started in this area.  There are a lot of interesting features coming soon…

It’s exciting to see users become more comfortable with metaphors around streaming, subscribing and sharing.  It not only enables us to better represent the cool stuff we’ve built over the last few years, it serves as a wonderful launch pad for where we’re going with “social classifieds.”

First the Facebook app, now the real thing

As you may have noticed, we have launched a Facebook version of BandTracker on Facebook Platform, but now it’s time to officially introduce the beta launch of Oodle’s newest service: BandTracker.

What it is

In short, BandTracker is a free service that allows music fans across the US (and expanding to the UK and Canada soon) to track their favorite bands, and for bands to connect with their fans. With over 210,000 bands and nearly 500,000 concerts (and growing!), BandTracker is endlessly useful if you’re looking for something to do this weekend or even tonight, or if you just want to see your favorite band when they’re coming to town. Have you ever kicked yourself for missing out on seeing your favorite bands because they came and went without your knowledge, or tickets sold out before you even knew?

All of this means that you no longer need to search for concerts when you’re looking to go out – BandTracker does the work for you. All that’s needed is for you to input your favorite bands, your area or postal code, and your email address, and BandTracker send you emails whenever your bands are playing in your area. It also provides a link to easily purchase tickets. And, if you don’t see one of your favorite bands coming to town, BandTracker provides a weekend concert calendar so that you’re never wondering what to do on a Friday night.

BandTracker Widgets

Oodle BandTracker also allows users to create widgets for their blog, MySpace or personal web page to express their style and showcase their favorite bands. For fans, the MY BandTracker widget dynamically displays fans’ favorite bands and their upcoming local shows. For bands, the BandPromoter widget showcases their popularity as well as generates emails that notify their registered fans about upcoming shows.

BandTracker on Facebook

As we’ve talked about before, similar to “widgets” for MySpace, blogs and other web pages, BandTracker is also available as an application for Facebook users, allowing users in the US and UK to track and share bands within their social networks, and for their friends to see what bands they are tracking.

So check it out now! Just head over to bandtracker.com and try it for yourself.

Also, for those of you in San Francisco, come check us out at Sugar and Gold’s record release party this Friday night (6/15) at 12 Galaxies! Tickets are only $8 and doors open at 8 PM (show starts at 9:30). See you there?

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