Cuil: Google competitor, or pointless startup?

Cool! It's IT Blogwatch: in which a new search engine, Cuil, tries to usurp Google's dominance. Not to mention hip hip hooray for DNA...

Dan Nystedt reports:

A former Google employee and her husband launched a new search engine Monday called Cuil (pronounced "cool"), aiming to topple Google by indexing more Web pages than the search giant.

Cuil, of Menlo Park, California, is led by Anna Patterson, a former leader of Google's search index and her husband, Tom Costello, who researched and developed search engines at Stanford University and IBM. The two, president and CEO, respectively, met at Stanford. Russell Power, the third cofounder of the group, also worked at Google on search indexing, Web rankings and spam detection. He works as vice president of engineering at Cuil. more

Victoria Barret adds:

Anna Patterson was one of Google's star engineers until she left in December 2006 to seek out something new. Venture capitalist friends gave her a curious suggestion: talk to your husband.

Unbeknown to Patterson, her husband, Tomàs Costello, had been building a start-up between car pool runs for the couple's three (now there are four) children. Even more surprising, Costello was building a search engine to compete with Google.
Weeks later, the two teamed up with the goal of creating a super-efficient Web crawler that would seek out vast parts of the Web that go untouched by the big players, and analyze what those pages are about ... Costello and Patterson are quick to say they didn't build Cuil to be a Google-killer. Instead, they want to spark competition in search that has been lacking. more

Verne Kopytoff wonders if Cuil copied it off Google: [You're fired -Ed.]

Many search engine upstarts have tried to erode Google's dominance, only to fail.
Cuil's search results may seem like a major departure for anyone used to Google's 10 blue links. Rather than showing results in a single column, Cuil displays them in several columns across the page, along with more lengthy snippets of text and thumbnail photographs related to the query. To narrow their queries, users can click on automatically generated categories that appear on the results page. more

Om Malik wonders if we're asking the right question:

These days, anyone starting a search-related effort almost certainly has to deal with the G-Factor. Are they trying to take on Google? How are they going to beat that awesome search-and-advertising money machine?
Monier had noted that “search engines can be used for more than just navigation.” It is becoming increasingly evident that the battle of navigation has been all but won by Google. However, Monier and his cohorts at Cuil are betting that the company can use new information retrieval-and-dissemination technologies to overcome the information overload on the Internet.

My big belief is that “serendipity” is the right way to go as we continue to get immersed (and drowned) in information. From that perspective, Cuil might be on the right track. more

Chris Brogan tries the obvious ego test:

It didn’t work for me. I searched on “Chris Brogan” and found all kinds of relevant info, including random pictures not related to the text results beside the search, and none of them my main URL.

I searched on “” and it couldn’t find my URL. I searched on “chrisbrogan” and it found a bunch of social networks where I’ve used that username.

Call me egotistical, but if you can’t find yourself in a search engine after a decade of littering the web with your presence, I’m thinking it’s not much of a search engine. more

Robert Scoble points and laughs:

Is Cuil going to be able to get into this game? No way, no how.
So, why is Cuil here? I think it’s a play for Microsoft money. Microsoft needs to get back into the search game, so will continue buying companies to try to get back into the search game. Yahoo, if run by management that’s rational, will probably start doing the same thing.

Look at Powerset. They cashed out early to Microsoft. Cuil probably will do the same thing if it brings enough to the table. more

Charlie Anzman told you so:

It was back in October than my fascination with a start-up, then known as Cuill (with two l's) was planning to take on Google, or so it seemed. Some outright laughed. Others looked at who was behind it ... I seriously doubt too many people are going to argue with this roster of engineering and marketing 'pilots'.
Will Cuil be cool? Way too early to tell, but fascinating to watch. more

And finally...

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Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/adviser/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and spam. A 21 year, cross-functional IT veteran, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. You can follow him on Twitter, pretend to be Richi's friend on Facebook, or just use boring old email:

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