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Web Discovery Machine

MARCH   30,  2005 - Posted By Geoffrey Mack

Accoona: Moving Up by Getting Low
Taking a look at Alexa Movers & Shakers I noticed Accoona, the new Web search engine that launched last December with the help of Bill Clinton, is racing up the rankings chart. In the last month they have seen their reach triple. Chart. They recently peaked on par with our favorite butler Jeeves own search engine, So what's the story here? How is this possible?

After using the search engine, I have to admit, I am not impressed. It is OK, but I can see no reason to go back. The results are OK, but the index size is clearly limited. The ads are also crowding out the results, which is not a good experience for a first time user.

But still, people are visiting in droves. Perhaps it is because Accoona gave away a car at the recent Search Engine Strategies conference. Or perhaps it is because they are doing some stealthy (read: unethical) marketing. Recent blog posts indicate the Accoona is spamming the comments of numerous blogs as these humorous and angry posts attest. Link. Link. That's the bad news: spam works and Accoona is reaping the benefits of it's spamtastic marketing campaign.

MARCH   29,  2005 - Posted By Geoffrey Mack

Roll Your Own - A9 Search
I realize that this isn't news, but I've been avoiding mentioning it due to a conflict of interest. But now that the news articles and blog postings have slowed down, I feel free to add my 2 cents. A9's new "Add Columns" feature is great. If you are unfamiliar, you should go there now and click the "add columns" link. With this feature developers can integrate their own search into A9 and have it appear in the "add columns" area, and users can customize their search experience to add whichever search engines appeal to them.

This feature is great in two ways. 1) For users, it allows you to create a search engine that has all the features you want, without all the features you don't. For me, that meant adding Yellow Pages, Flickr search, Wikipedia search and Blog search. Forget about the old search engines that present the same interface to everybody. This is mine. 2) For other search engines and search services, they can easily add their search to the service. A9 has already added the NYTimes, thinkgeek, pubmed, creative commons and more. Lots more. At last count there were 112 different search columns available. This is a win win.

MARCH   21,  2005 - Posted By Geoffrey Mack

Sold! Ask Jeeves and Flickr
This morning two big tech news stories caught my eye. Perennial also-ran search engine Ask Jeeves and hot new photo sharing service Flickr were both sold to big media companies.

IAC, the large media conglomerate with Home Shopping Network,, Expedia, and, is buying Ask Jeeves for almost $2 Billion. Ask Jeeves also owns, and When I mentioned this to a co-worker this morning I got back "When is the last time anybody went to Ask Jeeves and searched for something?" In a room full of 25 people, only one raised his hand. While I understand his point, I should mention that Ask Jeeves has come a long way. Their search results are quite good now and they have a lot of useful features. Give it a try.

On the surface $1.85 Billion looks like a lot of money, but there is a bigger picture here. Ask Jeeves powers a lot of searches. If you surf around the Web as much as I do, you will notice that a lot of sites use Ask Jeeves to power their searches. Take Lycos for example. About a week ago, Lycos switched from using Overture (a Yahoo company) to Ask. IAC is paying a 17 percent premium for Ask, but this is a relatively inexpensive 15 times Ask's cash flow, compared to Google and Yahoo's 25 times cash flow stock price.

It appears that IAC is going to begin building a portal, ala Yahoo, by combining their properties. I'm betting that within a year you will see Ask Jeeves simple home page loaded up with links to CitySearch, Expedia and, plus others. Somehow I don't think the synergy of these different sites will make me any more likely to visit.

Then there's Flickr. If you are unfamiliar, Flickr is a photo sharing site. Post your photos, tag them, and anybody can find them, view them, and even build applications using them. The key is an API that lets developers integrate Flickr photos into their apps. So, who bought Flickr? Yahoo! Not to be outdone by Google's purchase of Picasa, Yahoo is buying its way to credibility. But Flickr? Flickr is decidedly un-Yahoo-like. It's open API stands in stark contrast to most of Yahoo's top down closed culture. Hopefully Flickr will have more of an influence on Yahoo than the other way around.

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