AFX covers along with others the acquisition of Relegence Corporation by, of all companies, AOL. At first glance this seems like an odd marriage: Relegence has been focused intently on providing filtered real-time news services to high-end financial traders, a very nichey crowd that is experiencing cutbacks in the face of greater trade automation and tightening margins. Of what value is Relegence to consumer markets? When you take a look at the product in any detail the answer has to be: tons. Relegence provides a sophisticated but easy-to-use tool that allows a user to select key news sources and to define their relevance to specified search patterns as the content streams into a user's desktop applications. Other key capabilities such as "Heat Factors" to indicate market-moving stories, event detection, automatic summarization and clustering of related stories guide users to finding the news that's right for them in the moment.
A few years ago Relegence's capabilities were fairly rarefied compared to how news was being managed on the Web. Today, with a proliferation of RSS news feeds, clustering search engines and alerts services from Web portal providers the capabilities that were once reserved for the darlings of Wall Street are now in demand for everyday online content consumers. In Relegence AOL gains a company that has both sophisticated news filtering capabilities and a strong sense of user interface design that is likely to appeal to online audiences who want machines that do what they want them to do without much hassle and geekishness. This is one way in which AOL may be able to come up with a more unique proposition for its portal services to get it in the game with increasingly sophisticated online competitors leveraging feeds-based news aggregation. Congratulations to both companies on a deal that's likely to be one of many in coming years that mines the benefits of the financial community's expertise in serving up real-time content to demanding audiences.