Startup Collecta Shuts Down Its Product, Starts Working on a New One

Collecta, a real-time search engine that launched in June 2009, has quietly shuttered its main product; the team is returning “back into the woodshed,” in the words of CEO Gerry Campbell, to work on new ideas and new directions.

Currently, is just a placeholder and mailing-list signup form field. The site shows a constantly refreshing mosaic of images gathered in real time from TwitPic and Flickr — an homage to the company’s roots.

With the majority of a carefully spent $4.7 million Series B still sitting in the bank, the startup has plenty of runway to work with; a large part of the company’s talent is staying onboard, as well. (One of the co-founders, Jack Moffitt, will be engaged in other pursuits, which gives us a grand total of two entities to watch closely following this announcement.)

Campbell said running a real-time search engine, while it is not to become the company’s end goal, was an educational experience for the team. In a conversation today, he noted that the company learned three main lessons from its two-and-a-half-year stint as a real-time search engine.

“First, there is a huge need for real-time information,” he said. “Second, a destination site is not the correct vehicle for reaching people. Third, new behaviors, specifically with Facebook and mobile, are growing.

“Beyond that, we’re in a new market since 2009.” Campbell’s right about that much; in 2009, real-time technology was almost a means and an end in itself. Today, real-time technology is only one component for an ever-growing range of applications.

Whatever comes next, though, will likely have strong ties to Collecta’s excellent real-time technology. “This company’s DNA is definitely real-time,” Campbell concluded.

While we’re surprised at this pivot, we’re glad it comes at a financially convenient time for this startup, and we can’t wait to find out what’s going on in that metaphorical woodshed of theirs.

It’s interesting to note that Collecta’s major rival in the real-time search space, OneRiot, also completely changed product directions this year, dumping its search engine and moving into the online ad game.

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