Alex Gorbansky, CEO, Docurated: Why storage is free, yet information pays out

We’ve all been there. It might be an email address you neglected to put in your contacts book. It’s on the tip of your tongue but you just can’t remember it. It might be a photo, or even an important email from the boss you swore you’d put in the right folder.

Docurated, a New York and Boston based firm, feels your pain. The firm’s product lifts, shifts and sorts through a company’s content repository, using machine learning to automatically tag the most relevant, effective and important content.

“That’s really a story that’s relevant to a lot of people,” Alex Gorbansky, CEO of Docurated, tells CloudTech. “Whether you work in sales or marketing in a large organisation, you are looking and flipping through so much content it impossible for you to find that information you need – and that’s where we help customers.”

Gorbansky says his view of the company’s position in life is as “a connectivity layer between knowledge workers and their contents.” It’s knowledge and information that’s the key. Here’s the irony: as cloud storage becomes ever cheaper, to the point of no cost at all, it’s the information that you’re actually being charged for.

At least, that’s how Docurated sees it. With clients including Netflix and The Weather Channel, and in a world where data threatens to overwhelm everyone in the team, others are seeing it that way too.

“We’re seeing a world where there’s much more heterogeneity on where content is stored,” Gorbansky explains. “People have information on Box, they have information on Google Drive, SharePoint, Dropbox, all over the place.

“The cost of information retrieval from a human productivity perspective is going through the roof,” he adds. “And that creates an enormous challenge for organisations.”

There are other options available to companies with different fingers in different pies. Some storage vendors offer capability to merge all their storage accounts into one big cloud, for instance. Yet the biggest partner for Docurated is Box, announcing integration back in June. As Box’s search functionality is limited to 10,000 characters, Docurated can go through the entire subset.

Docurated uses a variety of what it calls ‘signals’ to assess what content is relevant or not. As Gorbansky puts it: “When people are looking for content they’re specifically not looking for a document. They’re looking for something within the document, maybe even within the page, and we bring all of that to the forefront.”

These signals are inspired in part by how Google sorts its SEO rankings. “What was really brilliant about Google Pagerank is the way that they looked at the web, they realised that the more links a site had pointing to it, the more relevant that page was,” Gorbansky explains. “We’re getting the same thing with documents, but of course documents don’t have links, so you have other signals.”

The signals include how often a slide has been used – say, to decide which bio page is best – how recently a slide has been modified, as well as analytics. “You can call it data science,” Gorbansky concedes. “We apply data science to all this content to figure out which is the most interesting and the most relevant.”

Documents can be broken up incrementally, from individual slides, to individual text blocks and charts within that slide. Users can adopt a clipboard – a workspace where they can fit all their useful data. And to complete the cycle, the user can then save as a PowerPoint file, or PDF – effectively creating a new piece of content.

Yes, it’s adding to the noise, but it’s making that noise clearer and more tuneful. “Imagine trying to do this with today’s workflow, and today’s environment,” Gorbansky adds. “It’s virtually impossible.”

Docurated was in attendance at BoxWorks last week, with Gorbansky speaking at a panel session. Given the two companies work closely together, Gorbansky is in a perfect position to comment on Aaron Levie’s strategy, from the on-again off-again IPO drama to nixing cloud storage costs – and he defended the Box CEO.

“I think a lot of companies go through ups and downs,” Gorbansky explains, adding that the same happened with a previous startup of his but the company ‘persevered, and truly understood its true north.’ “The same will happen with Box,” he adds.

“One thing I will tell you is you can listen to all the stuff in the media, which has become negative recently, but if you actually talk to customers and leading CIOs, because we have many of those in common, they’re all enthusiastically investing in Box, despite all these things.

“I think that’s really what matters,” he adds.