Why we’re building Refind

We’re creating a new category—relevance—to help you make the most of the web. Spend your time on what’s worth your attention.

A category is missing

The web has fundamentally moved us forward. Most notably, it has given us access to the world’s information and there are currently three main ways we discover an ever-growing amount of content: news, social networks, and search. We believe that a fourth category is missing: relevance—a calm, quiet place where we take a step back to focus on what’s most relevant to us.

Diversity and noise

News delivers what’s happening in the world right now. Social networks let us know what’s happening with our friends. Search is great at finding the needle in the haystack.

But how do we discover things from around the web that are new and relevant to us? There’s a plethora of curated content—from niche sites over Twitter to newsletters. While it’s interesting to see the web through the lens of the curator, our interests are unique and relying on a few curators alone is likely not diverse enough. If we add more sources to our mix (for example, following more people on Twitter, or using an RSS reader), we increase diversity but also noise.

We need a better filter.

Too much to handle

There’s a second problem. Let’s imagine for a moment that the above—discovery—was fixed: we magically had access to a list of only the must-see links every day. At times, it’s still too much. How can we handle things we find relevant but don’t have time for right now?

Bookmarks? Bookmarks disappear into a black hole: the more we put in, the less we get out when we need it.

Read later? Deferral fails in the information age because there’s always more information to read later—our reading lists pile up and read later becomes read never.

We need a more intelligent system.

Why now?

1
More and more content is getting produced, the problem increases. And a lot of it is relevant, high quality—it’s just too much to sift through.
2
Incentives on existing platforms are such that new and entertaining content wins. Signal-to-noise is low and relevance is not loud enough.
3
The overwhelming dominance of Google and Facebook have stalled innovation in this area. It’s about time someone tackles this problem anew.

A new category

We read the news to see what’s happening in the world right now. We check our social network to see what’s happening among our friends. We search when we know what we’re looking for. And to see what has happened around the web that’s most relevant to us, we go to our relevance place.

A new metric

Let’s first define what we want. We’d like to get a list of the most relevant links: more on our biggest interests, fewer on others. We want to see what people we follow find relevant. The list should be novel and accurate, but with a sprinkle of serendipity. It should burst the filter bubble. But it should also be limited.

This can be solved algorithmically, but a new metric is needed. A metric that takes different signals into account, and evaluates things differently. Instead of clicks, we leverage signals that better capture relevance. Instead of age in seconds, we favor long shelf-lives.

A better way to handle the volume

The solution to the second problem—too much to handle—is part human, part computer.

The human part is a simple triage: do we want to save a link—fire-and-forget style—to keep and find again when we really need it, or do we actually want to read it? This is important, as it reduces our reading lists significantly.

But it only works if the system re-surfaces links when we actually need them. That’s the computer part. It’s a lot about the right link at the right time. But it’s also about the right form: when we commute, we might prefer audio; when we’re in a hurry, we might prefer summaries.

Soon
Save links to your reading list that you want to read soon.
Someday
Our reading list makes educated guesses what you might want to read next, even after you forgot about it.
Eventually
Save links you want to keep. You’ll find them again when you actually need them, for example when you search on Google.
Refind app icon

Introducing Refind

We’re building Refind to tackle the relevance problem. Refind is a community of movers and shakers who discover, read, and save what’s worth their attention.

Discover2
Ios screen
Discover

More signal, less noise

Every day we analyze an ever-growing amount of new links and create a magazine of the most relevant ones for you.

Caught up

Less is more

For every new link, we compute your personal relevance score and show you the 10 that make the cut.

Save great links

Save great links from around the web with one click—with our browser extension on your computer or our share extension on your phone.

Save

Find again when you actually need it

Search the web as you always do. Let Refind highlight links you saved when you search on Google.

Google search

A smarter reading list

Our smart reading list helps you read more of what’s relevant to you. Stories you don’t read within two weeks will move to Someday, sorted by relevance. Soon is always small and manageable, and if you ever find time to catch up, you’ll find more on Someday.

On iOS, you can access your reading list anytime, anywhere—even when you’re offline.

Also, we’re trying to bring you the content in the right form: when you commute, you can listen to the story; when you’re in a hurry, you can read a summary.

Ios read next
Logotype

What’s in a name?

That which one finds relevant and wants to find again is worth discovering to someone else. The name Refind touches on both core aspects—handling the volume and cutting through the noise.

What people say

Refind is a work in progress. It’s used by thousands of engaged users and we continuously improve Refind based on feedback. We’re grateful for all the input we get from engaged users—people like Chris Messina have had a tremendous impact. We’re 1% there and have a long way to go.

Dan ariely
“Refind helps me expand my horizon.”
— Dan Ariely, best-selling author
Werner vogels
“Refind is my favorite discovery tool.”
— Werner Vogels, Amazon CTO
Chris messina
“Refind has become my Chrome New Tab.”
— Chris Messina, inventor hashtag

Who inspires us

Two years ago, we set out to solve our own problems—handling the volume and cutting through the noise—by writing code. But along our journey, we continuously stumble upon people that shape what we build. It’s a long list and we’ll portray them on our blog at some point. Here are three.

Tristan harris
Tristan, a former Design Ethicist at Google, started a movement that demands a new kind of technology—a technology that isn’t driven by time spent, but time well spent. Watch his TEDx talk.
Erica berger
Erica has lived and breathed the news and the internet for much of her life. She’s an adventurer in conscious media and she’s given us new perspectives on the landscape. Read her Peak Content.
Eli pariser
Eli’s theory about the filter bubble had a lasting impact on us and we’re trying to be aware of it when tuning our algorithms—the importance of which will increase as we grow. Watch his TED talk.

We’re a small team with big ambitions.

We’re passionate about the web, search, data science, and so many other topics. Fundamentally, we’re fascinated about what can be done with an idea and a computer. We want to move the edge. There’s so much to be done, but we focus on one task at a time. Let’s get to it.

We’re hiring! Reach out if you want to contribute to our mission. At this point, we’re mainly looking for mobile developers, data scientists, search and scalability engineers.

Don’t let this limit your imagination, though. If you have a unique set of skills that you think Refind will benefit from, we’re interested.

We’re a remote-friendly workplace. Wherever you are, we’d like to hear from you: hello@refind.com

Dominik Grolimund
Lifelong entrepreneur, Computer Science ETH Zurich, Refind is my fourth startup—it’s the idea I always wanted to work on.
David Bauer
Journalist and curious generalist. I’ve always been passionate about helping people make use of the vast information ecosystem that is the world wide web.

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