Well it appears that Cuil the troubled search engine that didn’t is dead.
While I am not that surprised by this considering its lackluster results, I do feel that this is bad for the web in general. With the Yahoo/Bing deal we now have very few independent indexes that power search on the web. The big players are down to the following it would seem,
What did suprise me about this though was the question people were asking about how the founders of Cuil ever managed to secure $33 million in funding. The answer is actually pretty simple.
The founders Anna Patterson and Tom Costello (not sure about the 3rd founder) are well known in the world of Search and have a proven track record of creating large indexes which are the basis of an search engine. Anna held the record for creating the worlds largest index at one stage.
They probably had a tech demo which showed how they could scale this out from one machine to multiple. You can’t actually see how well its going to work on the web until you index most of it, but the initial start looked good. The time taken from stealth to launch was doing the scale out and crawling. This is just my gut feeling but it would be similar to the way Google secured its initial $100,000 worth of funding.
The potential payoffs are huge. Jason Calacanis was quoted as saying that each 1% of the search market is worth $1 billion a year. If Cuil was able to deliver and get just 5% of the market then thats a huge return on investment which is exactly what VF’s are looking for.
Hats off to them for the achievement’s they made and for at least trying to take on the big boys of search. While new engines like DuckDuckGo are attempting the same, Gabriel Weinberg uses the existing indexes of Bing and Google without really maintaining a huge custom one. I can only hope at this point that Blekko delivers the goods (and supposedly its getting close!) and that the other players like Gigablast continue to innovate.
Some additional recent thoughts about this What Happened To Cuil? The Thought-To-Be Google Killer