Brisbane-born start-up Particls promised a better way of organising information from the web. Now, however, it appears to have given up the battle, with both the Particls website and that of its parent company Faraday Media disappearing from the web.
Particls was one of the bright stars of the early days of Australia's Web 2.0 movement ... [but] there is only so long you can last on a good idea alone
The company was started in January 2006 by Chris Saad and Ashley Angell to develop an RSS feed organiser. It launched a personalised news and alerts service back in May 2007 to positive reviews, and earlier this year released an application called Particls Fountain that allowed users to follow topics on Twitter by keyword.
Both services were free to use — which may have something to do with the company's current status. The Particls Twitter identity is still active, but the link through to its blog site is broken.
Saad moved to San Francisco earlier and joined the American company JS Kit, which is developing an online commenting system called Echo. Saad is also a co-founder of the DataPortability project and co-authored the Attention Profiling Mark-Up Language for presenting a machine-readable presentations of a users' interests. He is currently working as JS Kit's vice president of product strategy and community.
The other co-founder, Ashley Angell, is believed to be working for one of Particls' investors, Brisbane-based entrepreneur Stephen Kelly, on his company Peepel. That company has developed an online office application featuring mapping, word processing, file management and other applications (more information here). Efforts to contact Angell and Kelly were not responded to.
According to DataPortability's other co-founder, San Francisco-based Australian Elias Bizannes, that project is going from strength to strength.
"We are basically creating a Creative Commons for your data — so imagine viewing a website and never having to read a terms-of-service or end user licence agreement again because you know what you can do with your data," Bizannes says. "Mozilla suggested to us we make it like a browser thing that lights up with the status of the site and I've got some connections in the Valley who are interested to adopt it once we are ready."
"There's a lot of work to do as it's a complex problem, but it's going to be interesting to see where this takes us."
Particls was one of the bright stars of the early days of Australia's Web 2.0 movement, promoting a vision of making it easier to manage the growing volumes of information that are out on the web.
But like any other company that fails to find a sustainable business model, there is only so long you can last on a good idea alone.