Relationship Science, the data sifting company backed by tech and finance luminaries, is bringing some of its personalized search capabilities to the masses for free with its new News & Alerts service.
RelSci, as it is commonly known, was founded in 2010 by Neal Goldman, a former Lehman Brothers investment banker and founder of Capital IQ, a company that McGraw-Hill acquired in 2004 and is now part of S&P Capital IQ. The idea behind RelSci was to create targeted and useful search technology tailored to business people who need good information to do their jobs.
The company's paid service is sometimes referred to as "LinkedIn for the 1%." It is used by top-but-unnamed investment and legal firms, Goldman told Fortune. The benefit is that RelSci searches are much more useful than something like Google Alerts, he said.
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The new, free service, News & Alerts, allows users to click through topics to set up a personalized news feed with results delivered daily via email.
Unlike Google (goog) Alerts, which relies on keyword search to pick items, RelSci said its service can parse its vast knowledge base more thoroughly to filter out unwanted responses. It can ensure that your search for information about a specific "John Doe," for example, will only return results related to that individual and not any of the thousands of other John Does in the universe, according to RelSci.
Since its inception, RelSci "built a monster set of technology to integrate information on people and organizations in a very clean and detailed way and then estimate the likelihood of relationships between all those people so companies can maximize account planning and expand relationships with company X," Goldman told Fortune.
It's sort of a six-degrees-of-separation process which can show who knows whom and from where. Are these two people on the same boards? Do they give to the same charities? Have they worked together? Attend the same schools or events?
Inside that massive product, there was a news and alerts feature that was very popular; that's what's being broken out now.
Goldman doesn't subscribe to comparisons between the RelSci service and LinkedIn, which Microsoft (msft) purchased last year for $26.2 billion. His contention is that LinkedIn lacks any qualitative assessment of the relationships of its members.
News & Alerts service lets subscribers follow the alumni from their college, as well as current and former employers, alongside issues such as merger and acquisition activity, stock sales, donations to charities. RelSci draws on public government findings and a wide array of other sources for its knowledge base, including Lexis-Nexis, but not LinkedIn.
"Right now this is a simple, low-commitment thing. You can go to the site and see news pages that never existed online before on all sorts of topics," Goldman said. By clicking on buttons you can set up a feed and receive a daily email including information on the topics.
If you like that service, you can sign up for a free trial of higher level RelSci offerings and then, as a paying customer, sync your own contact network information with your organization's network.
The New York-based company has about $123 million in funding from backers including Larry Summers, former U.S. Treasury Secretary; Ron Perlman, founder of McAndrews & Forbes; Henry Kravis, co-founder of KKR; Bill Ackman, CEO of Pershing Square Capital Management; Ron Burkle, founder of Yucaipa Companies; and Terry Semel, former CEO of Yahoo(yhoo).