Glue: From Browser Plugin To Web Service

I've thought a lot about whether you can build a business via a browser plugin. I wrote a post a while back on that exact topic. I have seen web services successfully use browser plugins to increase the engagement with users. Delicious did this very successfully. The combo of a web service and a browser plugin is better than just a web service and is vastly superior to trying to do it all via a plugin approach.

And so I am very pleased to see that our portfolio company Adaptive Blue has announced the introduction of a very useful web service to supplement it's Glue plugin. The Glue plugin recognizes all sorts of web sites and catalogs the users visits to them.

I've been using the Glue plugin for several years. Glue automatically recognizes books, movies, music, artists, stars, stocks, restaurants and wine on hundreds of popular sites around the web. Glue works on Amazon, Netflix,, Rhapsody, IMDB, Citysearch, just to name a few. Here is a full list of Glue supported sites.

Now all of that activity is captured for each user and displayed via a public profile. Here is mine.

Each Glue user has a profile in the web service. Each item (book, movie, music, etc) has a page in the Glue service. So Glue is building a social network of people and items and showing connections between them.

And it is making connections and recommendations between items and people based on all of the data it has collected over the past couple years (and will continue to collect).

Here's an example. There's a BBQ restaurant near our office in NYC called Hill Country. Here is the Hill Country page on Glue. On that page, you can see the Glue users who like Hill Country, you can see what they say about it, and you can see similar barbeque joints, including my favorite in NYC, Fette Sau, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

There are a few other additions that I think are noteworthy. Glue now has a "game like" element in which you can collect stickers and become the Guru of a particular item in the service. As we've seen with foursquare, such gamelike features can really enhance the engagement levels of a web service.

The recommendations are delivered via a stream so they are "light and easy" to consume. The Glue service uses streams throughout to give the application a "live" feel. Here is the live feed of all user interactions.

Glue is about using the power of implicit behavior (web surfing) combined with occasional explicit behavior (likes and short comments about the items) and semantic analysis to develop a rich data set to power recommendations across many web services.

Give it a try and let me know what you think. You can download the extension here to get started.

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Comments (Archived):

  1. lawrence coburn

    A few years ago it looked like the destination site might go away – that toolbars, widgets, and apps might be the web startup of the future.It hasn’t.I think the arguments for having a strong home base to work in concert with your distributed spokes are stronger than ever.This is a smart move by Glue.

    1. Fraser

      @Lawrence, you are spot on. This is actually going to be the topic for the opening keynote at this years Add-on-Con.

  2. Guest

    I like it. I think as we head into the future, we’ll see more and more services taking advantage of the social graph + recommendations. Whether it’s content or commerce, friends and 2nd degree friends will matter significantly. Almost everything we do on the web will become social (I think the biggest winners will be in the commerce area).Implementation is the key. Facebook screwed up big time with Beacon. I think this is something users need to ease themselves into, a la Glue.

    1. fredwilson

      Glue is kind of the opposite of beacon. User driven as opposed to social net driven

  3. Eric Falcao

    Is “Hill Country” a Texas Hill Country-style BBQ like The Salt Lick, etc? How does it stack up?

    1. Tariq

      I’ve eaten at Hill Country and Salt Lick (I live in Austin right now but spent the summer in NYC). One really cool thing about Hill Country is the fact that they have beef ribs. These are almost only a Texas thing, so it was definitely cool to find them up there (they were good).

      1. Mark Essel

        Great Tariq, now I have a hunger for beef ribs. My pop loves bbq’ing these up.

    2. Guest

      Proof that social recommendations matter. Love it.Now if only I could figure out why Facebook and/or Disqus isn’t picking up my profile information.

  4. Tariq

    This looks really cool. I enjoy being able to gather data like this to look back and get a picture of how exactly I spend my time on the internet. So far I’ve been loving Last.FM. This looks pretty interesting though since it looks like a browser plugin and would run as more of a background process (whereas Last.FM is fired up every time I open iTunes).

    1. Mark Essel

      I agree, I’m interested in the not so conscious stuff that I do on the web, and want to develop tools to work in that space.

    2. fredwilson

      Its for the web with a defined set of domains. After spying on myself and publicly posting the data for years, I’ve come to appreciate the value of the limited set of domains

  5. ryanbrown

    The link to Glue supported sites is broken, and I’m very curious 😉 Mind updating that with the correct url?

    1. fredwilson

      thanks for finding that broken link Ryan. I’ve fixed it.

  6. Geoff

    Seriously impressed by their customer service! 3minute response time to my email 🙂 Thanks Fraser

    1. Fraser

      @geoff, if you’re going to take a minute to write support, you can be sure that we’ll take a min to’s the richest ways to connect with our community.

  7. MikePLewis

    I’ve been an Glue (or AdaptiveGlue) user for a while (prob 2 years) and while i find it really interesting i’ve haven’t found it that useful. What i currently like about it is the MyWare component of displaying the sites that you visit and categorizing them.In my opinion, social sites i visit become useful and part of my online experience when they address a specific need or issue i have. Foursquare answers “What are your friends doing?” or “Where are you and and your friends?” and i use it because of that.It reminds me of Pandora. They hired (back when they were SavageBeast) a bunch of musicologists to analyze and categorize songs by using 100+ musical attributes. That was all nice and dandy but it didn’t become a popular site until they allowed users to enter in an artist and they’d create a station for you. Pandora answered the question “If i like this song, what other music would i like?”Glue is now capturing lots of interesting data and categorizing it. I’m waiting to see what they will do for me now that they’ve done this.

    1. ShanaC

      Exactly. I’m also finding it difficult to have it stay away from the fact that I look stuff up on wikipedia. All sorts of stuff. Why would I recommend Wikipedia, from a movie to a math page? I much rather refere a blog page or an image- but that seems harder to do.It doesn’t seem to have any follow through- what’s the end goal? To pop up right before/after I watch netflix? To be a better drive down into amazon ratings? I’m lost…

      1. Fraser

        Hi Shana, thanks for providing some insight and feedback.We want to be the place that takes your web activity for every day things – books, movies, music, etc. – and turns it into usable information: suggestions / recommendations.Some categories are already solid (i.e. books or movies) and others require a few tweaks (i.e. topics).Keep the insight coming 🙂

        1. ShanaC

          Part of the problem is I am not getting good recommendations from You need to find a way of opening up thier API, Hulus, Netflix- and then ask for people to rate them- and then give them other choices. Honestly The stuff I see sucks. From what I’ve given you in those categories, you do decently, but you need to force the user to rate naturally as part of the activities that they are doing already. Going to IMDB or to Amazon doesn’t link neccessarily the reading/ watching/ of the book/movie/music to what you think you would like (and I need help in that category, I like a lot of stuff)Rating it as you are doing it does. I forget what I like without prompting. I need to be there, or near there, in order to remember. That’s a good momement to get people to rate. Otherwise- why am I doing this precisely.I clearly know I lurck for thingds that interest me- but it doesn’t mean I want to go and watch this stuff. Rate Hulu and Netflix and Itunes and Kindles (or amazon purchases.)Rate what we do!

    2. Mark Essel

      I learn so much from reading comments here on AVC. Great stuff pescatello

  8. Greg Cohn

    I’m a big fan of Glue!

  9. Andre D

    Totally agree.

  10. andyswan

    All of that plus Fraser is the smartest guy in the room. That’s win.

    1. Fraser

      Andy, remind me to pay you the $5 when I see you next.

  11. JeremiahKane

    I think the site as opposed to just the plug-in is a key factor. Just as a blog loses something when it is reduced to a feed, there is something missing from a straight plug-in model.The idea of “things” being an important attribute of people and source for recommendations is an important one. I really like what OurShelf is doing here as well ( …as a way to both catalog my things but also tap into the social aspects that make these services compelling.I need to find a way to put it all together: the music, tv shows and movies I like from Glue, Boxee, NetFlix . with the ones I have and like from OurShelf. Add the the restaurants I go to from foursquare to Glue etc.I’m sure a business model exists for a company that separate the information from the applications. It doesn’t diminish the applications, just makes it easier to use.

    1. fredwilson

      Interesting idea to harvest the data from all these apps and aggregate it

  12. GiordanoBC

    Hi Fred,I just installed, and trying it out. Haven’t had much time to check it out, but it looks to me that it could customize my profile much better from start if it could automatically) access my Amazon / iTunes purchase lists and libraries, as well as other stuff (e.g Facebook games I installed), and build an initial DB of my tastes based on past behavior. Can it?Cheers, Giordano

    1. Alex Iskold

      Hi Giorgano,Thanks for trying out Glue!We are considering adding ability to point to your existing data in other networks so that it shows up in Glue. For iTunes, are you thinking import a library?Alex

    2. fredwilson

      If those services have apis and you authorize it, yes

  13. LD Eakman

    “Glue now has a “game like” element in which you can collect stickers and become the Guru of a particular item in the service. ” – This reminds me of the idea of using a passport to encourage participation and provide status in my travel site! I’m still waiting for somebody to get travel put together the right way.

    1. fredwilson

      Just do it lindel!

  14. Mark Essel

    Fantastic model for growth! Especially appreciate the game like behavior. The dynamics of evolving web games is part of what makes building smarter web software fun for the users. It’s groovy seeing all these different tools sprouting up on the web to help us not only share information, recommendations, and experiences but to help build the web’s knowledge about us as users. I believe automated tools that can learn about our behavior is key to making the web experience even more meaningful, effective, and game the donation challenge numbers are looking good 😀

  15. abhic

    This sounds like one of those ‘they-didnt-have-it-already-?’ features. Great to see it out in any case. I would love to see more ‘regular’ applications infuse gaming elements to spice things up.As a startup founder, it would be awesome for Fraser to share some stats over time of any changes in engagement levels etc.

  16. Glenn Gutierrez

    I’m a big believer in being able to build a business through the use of browser plug-ins. I believe one of the reasons why this an even better time than any is that people are spending so much time online. It’s seems so obvious but this can’t be understated. I mean, ask just about any one you run into at Starbucks or at a University and they’ll tell you they are online consuming content and engaging more than ever before. If our computers are replacing our TVs as our new source of entertainment then the browser through plug-ins have become the new customizable remote control.

  17. Randall

    Fred,I actually have a tangential question. I’m catching up on blog posts and noticed that Glue was written up on,,, and all on the same day. How did you help to coordinate that? That’s an impressive feat of coordination and timing!Randall

    1. fredwilson

      I have no clue to be honest

  18. ShanaC

    I’m still finding the weight a problem (then again I have a plugin heavy browser and I don’t know why). And I still want to be very careful of intrusiveness. I’ve gotten hits from Glue on Facebook.I’m also finding that the chasm cross is difficult. Certain things, I’m ahead of my friends. And I’m 23. That shouldn’t be allowed. If the social net matters, it needs to be passively grabbed in such a way that those who have a program can get slight bits of information (not all just some) from those who don’t. It would have to be super-granular, extremely fluid, and very passive. Essentially falling water onto rocks. It’s useless without finding a way to build a flexible support underneath where it can tell- and it can tell from my silly web from my serious stuff here.

  19. Keenan

    Fred, using Glue now.Would love it if it could be used to recognize, and recommend Blogs. It would be very helpful to see what people think about specific Blogs via glue.Can think of a million new uses for Glue but would love to see this one sooner than later.

    1. fredwilson

      Kind of like marry glue and blogrollr

      1. Keenan

        Exactly. ability to see not only what blogs, content people are looking at but what they like about it (comments) and a list of who else likes it. I would use this.

  20. gwarrier

    I have been trying Glue for the past few weeks and I am really getting used to it. I think where it is taking me to atleast is like a central location for all my likes / dislikes of the stuff that I care about – books, movies, TV shows…and my reactions to these. And love the ‘send to twitter’ function. Sure there is twitter and facebook…but I find it hard to categorize there and glue gives me that central location…

  21. Fraser

    @Ryan, this version of Glue wouldn’t be as slick if we didn’t have input and support from you and others along the way :)Thanks!

  22. fredwilson

    The progress the AB team has made in the past few months is really incredible

  23. Laura

    We plan to have a Chrome version of Glue ready for when Google enables add-ons for the browser.