And, he’s bringing us along for the ride.
Leap.It, the second version of which launched about three months ago, is picking up steam on the strength of the company’s vision that searches and social media are two sides of the same coin. The engine provides a link between mining the vast data reserves of the Internet and enjoying the online endorphins that come with social networking.
“To disrupt something like search you don’t go out to solve a single problem, you set out to reinvent everything,” Farmer said. “I’d say that pretty much sums up our startup mindset.”
A typical scenario: With an impending visit to Leap.It’s hometown of Kansas City on the horizon, a user searches for the best barbecue. Search keywords bring up a collection of websites, reviews, lists and articles, plus related media such as YouTube videos and photography, that appear on the screen and feature a drop-down menu allowing the user to advance to a specific site or to add the piece to a “Perspective” page.
A Leap.It Perspective is the most important point of contrast between Leap.It and other search engines. A pull-down menu reveals user-defined file templates into which the user can store individual elements from the search. Drag-and-drop allows the user to curate a set of relevant search results in a surprisingly short amount of time.
That’s where it really gets cool – each Perspective page can be shared via the user’s social media, inviting their circle of friends and associates to provide feedback, weigh in on a given review, offer alternative content and generally follow the Perspective.
“The difference between Leap.It and a traditional search engine is the difference between taking the word of a machine or search algorithm versus a personal recommendation by a friend,” Farmer said. “Obviously, one carries a lot more weight than the other.”
Not only does Leap.It work differently than other engines, it’s also much more visual. Instead of appearing as a text list, search results appear as tiles, most of which incorporate screen shots, photos or graphics and color. Such elements aren’t throwaways in the overall strategy behind Leap.It; far from it. Although the runaway success of such sites as Tumbler and Pinterest underscores the power of visuals, it’s a pool of thought into which most of Farmer’s competitors have only dipped a collective toe.
“You know the old saying, ‘A picture is worth a thousand words,’” he said. “Well, in the search realm we say a picture is worth a thousand keywords.”
The engine is garnering impressive attention from users and investors. Farmer landed $2 million in seed capital and is currently working to close Series A investment. Meanwhile, one million users tapped into Leap.It in its first four weeks and company projections show monthly active users already approaching 200,000, expecting to reach one million by this fall.
Brad Feld recently shared his perspective on Perspectives and Leap.It here.