Technology is a Shallow Moat

nRelate, a vendor of a content recommendation widget, will cease its operation by the end of this year. If this would happen two years ago, Zemanta would have a reason to celebrate; nRelate was our main competitor at that time in the space of related articles widgets targeted at smaller publishers. But today we regret such outcome since nRelate has become a valuable partner of ours as we pivoted away from the world of content recommendation widgets towards the uncharted waters of native advertising demand aggregation. In many ways, nRelate's fate validates our decision that competing with the likes of Outbrain and Taboola wouldn't be feasible without the deep pockets that the big guys posses and which are needed in order to get the attention of the publishers.

In 2012 nRelate was acquired by IAC, an online conglomerate based in New York, so in principle nRelate had the resources of the parent company available for expansion. They've chosen instead to become a pure technology play powering other IAC properties. When Oliver, the nRelate's cofounder, informed me about their decision some weeks ago I wrote him back that I see the path they have now taken as a precursor for other vendors of content recommendation widgets. Namely, I've realized over the course of the past two years that nobody really cares about content discovery networks (including Outbrain's and Taboola's) while their technology is easy to commoditize.

This is my last working day in 2014. I wish you all great holidays and happy new year 2015!