Search is a Platform. Where is it Going?

Web 2.0
52 minutes, 24mb, recorded 2004-10-06
Search is an application that binds the web's economic, interface, and partnership landscape. Through search, companies like Google and Yahoo have built extraordinarily scaled platforms that have evolved into next generation web-based applications like mail, hosting, and, some claim, an entire OS. Pioneers and leaders in the search business reflect on the present and future of the search platform. John Battelle moderates a panel of search-engine experts who explore the future of search as an application platform.

John Battelle moderates a panel of experts:

  • Steve Berkowitz, CEO, Ask Jeeves, Inc.
  • Udi Manber, CEO, A9
  • Louis Monier, Director, Advanced Technology Group, eBay
  • Christopher Payne, Corporate Vice President of MSN Search and Shopping, Microsoft, Inc.
  • Jeff Weiner, Senior Vice President, Search & Marketplace, Yahoo

Steve Berkowitz, CEO and Director of Ask Jeeves, Inc. In his prior role as president, Berkowitz is credited with building the management team that orchestrated the turnaround of, today the second largest pure search site on the Internet. In September 2001, he made the critical decision to acquire Teoma Technologies and integrate their unique approach to Web-wide search into the Ask Jeeves flagship properties. He also oversaw's redesign, which improved ease-of-use and removed pop-ups and banner ads from the site in favor of a more contextually relevant search experience. As a result, user satisfaction has grown steadily since 2002, and Ask Jeeves has more than doubled its revenue since Berkowitz came on board.

Prior to joining Ask Jeeves, Berkowitz was the President and COO of IDG Books, where he successfully expanded the "Dummies" series of books into a celebrated consumer brand covering everything from C++ to pet care. He also oversaw the acquisitions of Cliffs Notes, Frommers Travel Guides, Betty Crocker Cookbooks and JK Lasser Tax Guides, which not only diversified IDG's holdings but also established the company as a global consumer book publisher. Berkowitz also served as President and CEO of Intermap Systems, an ASP content provider focused on online consumer healthcare information systems.

Udi Manber is a Professor of Computer Science at the University of Arizona. He received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Washington in 1982. His research interests include computer networks and the World Wide Web, software tools, especially search and resource discovery tools, design of algorithms, and pattern matching.

Manber is the author of Introduction to Algorithms -- A Creative Approach (Addison Wesley, 1989 eleventh printing, 1994), and the editor of three other books. He received three best-paper awards, two patents, and one PYI.

Louis Monier likes to solve hard and relevant problems. As the director of the Advanced Technology Group, eBay's Research arm, he is in charge of bringing innovative solutions to the World's Online Marketplace(r). He recently led the redesign of the search solution that now powers eBay. Monier and his group are also pushing the envelope in various areas including real-time messaging, finding, recommendations, and trust-and-safety.

Monier began his career in the United States as a post-doc at Carnegie-Mellon in 1980, working with H.T. Kung on theory of circuit complexity, VLSI and CAD tools. In 1983, Louis moved to XEROX P.A.R.C. where for six years he explored novel CAD tools and designed a number of VLSI chips. In 1989, Monier joined DEC Western Research Laboratory (WRL) in Palo Alto where he continued to explore high-performance circuits, CAD tools, and software engineering tools.

In 1995, while at WRL, Monier launched AltaVista, which became the leading Web search engine. From 1995 to 1999 he was the CTO of AltaVista, introducing powerful technical innovations: the fastest web crawler, an efficient and powerful search engine, BabelFish, the first free automated translation site on the Web, and many others. After leaving AltaVista in 1999, Monier spent a year as the CTO of BigVine, a Kleiner-Perkins start-up in the Internet barter space. He then joined eBay in 2001. Born and educated in France, Louis got his Ph.D. in Mathematics and Computer Science in 1980 from the University of Paris.

Christopher Payne currently serves as Corporate Vice President of MSN Search and Shopping, where he focuses on delivering the best user experience on the internet. Prior to that, Mr. Payne was Vice President of, where his team consisted of MSN Search, the homepage, MSN Autos, Entertainment, MSNBC, Slate and the MSN Channel properties. He has also worked with, where he was instrumental in building their Video, Electronics, Software and Wireless divisions.

Jeff Weiner, senior vice president at Yahoo!, currently oversees all aspects of Yahoo!'s commerce and listings businesses, including Yahoo! Search, Yahoo! Shopping, Yahoo! Travel, Yahoo! Autos, Yahoo! Real Estate and local content including Yahoo! Yellow Pages, Yahoo! Maps and Yahoo! Get Local. His team is focused on how to create value for consumers and businesses by effectively matching buyers and sellers in the marketplace. The team is also focused on leveraging Yahoo!'s technology and assets to best optimize the consumer search experience in terms of user experience, product quality and monetization efforts.

From 2001 to 2002, Weiner was the senior vice president of corporate development at Yahoo!, where he was responsible for overseeing the development and modification of overall corporate and individual business unit strategy as well as mergers and acquisitions. Prior to coming to Yahoo!, Weiner was co-founder of Windsor Digital, a private equity firm focused on digital and media investments. From 1996 to 2000, he helped conceive the initial plan for Warner Brothers Online and played a key role in developing and overseeing the division, one of the first entertainment groups to take advantage of the Internet medium. Prior to Warner Brothers, he was a strategic planning analyst at Braxton Associates, the strategic management consulting division of Deloitte and Touche. Weiner holds a B.S. in Economics from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.

This is a presentation delivered at the Web 2.0 Conference held in San Francisco, CA, October 5-7, 2004. Our thanks go to MediaLive International and O'Reilly Media, the producers of Web 2.0, for permission to bring you this session, one of many from Web 2.0 here on IT Conversations.

This free podcast is from our Web 2.0 Conference series.