While Google’s algorithm has proven to be quite popular, some people may yearn for a more-personal touch and that is a gap that Netherlands-based ZEEF aims to fill. Launched in October 2013, ZEEF allows curators (which number 4,000 at this point, I am told) to create lists to help information-seekers find useful links on a particular topic and avoid wading through irrelevant hits.
ZEEF does not truly replace traditional services, but it would be quite useful if you are looking to avoid useless results. For example, if you are searching for a particular city or topic, doing a Google search will probably deliver what you are seeking, but you might have to wade through a number of unhelpful links to find all the relevant information.
On ZEEF, you simply type in a city (San Francisco, for example) and you are presented with a page full of curated lists naming attractions, restaurants, and other relevant topics. Quite simple, but it works. And it is not lists provided by faceless, anonymous people, either, as the curators who provide their expertise are able to create personal pages and list their various social-media accounts and contact information. One of the main issues that I found is that the service is still in its infancy and will only provide information for many topics when curators decide to add it. A search for my home state of Illinois, for example, was fruitless and I would end up at Google if I needed to find something. Still, for those searching for, or even hoping to contribute to, a simple alternative to the traditional players, ZEEF is worth a look.
Just this week, ZEEF announced that they have raised $1.55 million in a Series A round from Arthur Kosten and other private backers. Although they are not revealing their new backers (except Josten), the company would say that the angels who participated in this round are experienced in online marketing and that some of them helped to develop Booking.com. With their new financial backing, the company announced that they would continue to improve the overall platform and to add features like mobile and location-based search. They are also planning to open an office in New York City in order to establish a stronger foothold in the American market.
ZEEF argues that its service stands apart from traditional search engines by not only offering curated results, but also by allowing other sites to include ZEEF listings through an external widget.