Alacra (www.alacra.com) has been providing business and financial information and related solutions for more than 11 years. The company’s strength has been in aggregating and packaging information in innovative and creative ways. In the summer, it introduced a new free vertical search offering called AlacraSearch (see the NewsBreak at http://newsbreaks.infotoday.com/nbReader.asp?ArticleId=36848). Now, Alacra has announced the introduction of Research Recap (www.researchrecap.com), a free Web site built on a blogging platform that showcases compelling new research reports—with a special focus on those not widely circulated. Research Recap emphasizes free content and offers links to selected paid research deemed relevant to the topic. Featured paid research is sourced from a wide variety of providers, including the Alacra Store, the company’s ecommerce site (www.alacrastore.com). The company said that most paid research is password-protected and does not show up in typical Web searches.
Steve Goldstein, chairman and CEO of Alacra, said that there are two goals for the new business resource. The first goal is to help consumers of research find interesting, relevant, and current content. The second is to provide a forum for smaller research publishers to expose their content on a site other than their own. Research Recap has made arrangements with dozens of providers to review their proprietary research to determine what is appropriate to highlight for Research Recap’s target audiences. Research Recap is aimed at banking, investment, and financial professionals, but it should also prove to be of great interest to reporters interested in current business and financial research, personal investors, librarians, and others.
Here’s how Goldstein described the genesis of Research Recap on his blog. "At Alacra, we get to see a lot of research—we are partners with dozens of research publishers (Moody’s, Fitch, S&P, Forrester, Freedonia, etc,) and also redistribute a number of aggregated sets of investment and market research (Investext, Reuters Research and marketresearch.com). Plus, we have publishers of all sizes asking us to load their content on Alacra and the Alacra Store for resale. So we thought there would be interest in a website that highlighted some of the best research published in the business arena and we began to develop Research Recap. We built some tools that automate how new research gets to us to help with the discovery process and we have a handful of editors select and comment upon the best pieces."
Barry Graubart, vice president of product management for Alacra, said that the idea behind Research Recap is "to foster information discovery. Users typically rely upon a handful of providers for research and miss huge volumes of information that may be critical to them."
"The research reports we commonly see referenced in newspapers or trade publications are only the tip of the iceberg," said Goldstein. "Numerous government agencies, professional services firms, universities and boutique research firms all provide insights that the typical business professional or investor might never see. We’ve identified a substantial gap in the sources currently available, and are filling that gap by providing a single source spotlighting essential research reports."
Jeff Weiss, CEO of Freedonia Research, said, "What’s compelling about Research Recap is that it takes the notion of research discovery to a new level, facilitating idea generation from high quality, diverse research that users may otherwise never see. There’s nothing quite like it."
The moderator/editor of Research Recap, Angus Robertson, brings 3 decades of business media experience in the real-time electronic publishing industry. He has held a wide variety of positions ranging from reporting and editing roles to executive management and leadership responsibilities involving all aspects of the business. He was a senior executive at Knight Ridder Financial, Inc. and oversaw all news and research content at Bridge Information Systems.
There’s no firm business model right now, beyond the sales at the Alacra Store—but the company said its costs are low. Robertson said the company would consider advertising or sponsorships down the road. At this point, the site has some 270 posts. There’s no set metric, said Robertson, but he anticipates that editors will add 15 to 30 posts each week, and this could grow.
At launch, Research Recap is tracking research reports in these categories: Academic Research, Credit Research, Economic Research, Equity Research, Industry Research, Market Research, and Public Sector. RSS feeds are available for each category. Users can search by keywords and company names, but RSS feeds aren’t available yet. (For some of the individual entries, users can sign up for a feed for any responses.) Graubart admitted that it has quite simple search capabilities at this point. The site uses the WordPress blogging platform (www.wordpress.org) with plug-ins for the searching and tag clouds. For Q4 2007, Alacra hopes to provide improved navigation around topics, better use of tags, and improved RSS capabilities.
The real strength of Research Recap, besides fostering discovery of unique and valuable research, is in the quality of the abstracts. Much can be gleaned from the often lengthy and well-written summaries. With companies watching carefully how they spend their research dollars, Research Recap should prove to be useful in deciding whether to purchase a particular report. Robertson said that the majority of the reports at this point are free or have only a nominal cost.
During its prelaunch beta, Research Recap highlighted research on the subprime mortgage meltdown from sources such as Moody’s, CreditSights, the International Monetary Fund, Oxford Analytica, and PIMCO. It has featured analysis on energy issues such as green technologies and consumption trends from McKinsey, Revere Research, MIT, and the National Petroleum Council.
One venture capitalist blogger wrote that Research Recap was worth trying for its aggregated content, range of categories, and RSS feeds. "So if you care about the intersection of Wall Street and blogs, check out Research Recap. It’s in my blogroll now."
Another early user of the product who subscribes to the RSS feeds is Mike Salk, VP/senior product strategist at Moody’s and a former business colleague of Robertson and Goldstein. Salk finds the product to be very useful already and looks forward to when it’s even more comprehensive. "It exposes me to thoughts and analyses that I wouldn’t come across in my daily scan of the media." He acknowledged that other startups were doing some interesting things—such as Seeking Alpha (www.seekingalpha.com). "But," he said, "Research Recap provides more of a ‘deep think.’"
According to Graubart, while there are similarities to Seeking Alpha, the sites have a different approach. Seeking Alpha content is largely aggregated from blogs and financial newsletters. Most of the Research Recap posts are based upon more formal types of research. "The form and style of the posts will also differ. Seeking Alpha posts are typically focused on a given stock and are short posts; Research Recap posts often focus on more broad themes and the underlying content tend to be lengthy PDF files (some not available on the open Web)." He thinks readers would view the two sites as complementary.Research Recap welcomes submissions from research publishers for consideration and does not accept payment or other inducements to feature research from providers. For further information, contact Robertson at email@example.com.