Published November 18, 2008
Volume 16, Number 11

Hacienda's DotNext is an Incubator for the Next New Things
Company's New Site, Leapfish.com, is Only the First of Many More to Come

Ben Behrouzi, DotNext CEO and founder, in the company’s
CarrAmerica Corporate Center offices.

By Nicole Zaro Stahl

Innovation is the name of the game at DotNext. Occupying an 11,000-square-foot suite at 4420 Rosewood Drive, this new Hacienda tenant is pulsing with energy, as befits an umbrella venture firm whose mission is building new businesses in the Internet space. “Essentially, our core competency is staying on the cutting edge of innovation,” states CEO Ben Behrouzi, who founded DotNext in 2006. “Raising money or using company funds, we build an entity, put the management team together, add key sales personnel, and then introduce the organization to the marketplace.”

In accomplishing these objectives, Behrouzi will undoubtedly be guided by his success developing the technology infrastructure for the San Ramon-based Reply.com, an online lead marketplace, which he co-founded with two other partners back in 2001. These days Behrouzi and his DotNext crew are constantly on the look-out for needs that are not being met due to the natural evolution of Internet. To capitalize on the new opportunities, they stay close to a few fundamental principles of online operation: “keep it simple, build out the product, with systems that scale quickly.” Sometimes, it is a matter of improving something that may already exist in a different format, applying change, occasionally disruptive, to create useful new services that offer greater value to consumers.

Take, for example, the company’s recently launched Leapfish.com, “the first multi-dimensional information aggregator and search portal in the world,” whose beta version just went live on November 1. While Behrouzi acknowledges the prominence of Google and Yahoo in online search, he also points out that they were developed under different conditions—in an era before Ebay, YouTube, LinkedIn, the blogosphere, etc. Today’s Internet users need updated tools to navigate through the new complexity. 

Leapfish addresses that need by incorporating next-generation web destinations and portals in its search protocol. “These sites are very important to people, but if you want to include them in a search, you usually have to hunt and peck,” he explains. Instead, Leapfish gathers, organizes, and renders the most relevant information from the major online sources in one single search. “Our interface is built to exude and accentuate all the different kinds of destinations so users get results in a multi-dimensional and ingestible format,” he notes.

The data widget, another Leapfish strong suit, adds appeal to its results pages. These mini-applications deliver snippets of related content, injecting more value into the search exercise. “One of the objectives of our engine is to conveniently surprise users with new-found search information. The data widgets that execute these search tasks are loved by our users as they offer them information they wouldn’t normally have. Eventually more than 100 search widgets will be operating on the site.” An advertising model and key term sponsorship positions will also be forthcoming.

Behrouzi identifies two other entities on the DotNext horizon: iHype.com, a marketplace that brings together advertisers and bloggers or publishers, now in private beta; and Ziddler, still wrapped in secrecy until its debut in summer 2009.   

For more information about the company, visit www.dotnextinc.com, or take the new search function for a spin at www.leapfish.com.


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