This was originally posted on wbsrch.com. It is reproduced here to preserve history.
In the process of researching crowdfunding campaigns, I searched IndieGoGo for search engine pitches. I found 22 attempts to fund “actual search engines”.
Here is a list (with links to the IndieGoGo campaign):
Asim Shah (unnamed project)
Personalized Curated Mobile Search (no official name, so calling it PCMS)
Fedge No (unnamed project)
Some of these have launched campaigns more than once, but I’m only counting them once. I’m also not counting niche and vertical search, only general search engines.
|* Video missing (deleted from YouTube)|
|** Some of these are denominated in GBP. I didn’t really pay attention to which, but it doesn’t change the numbers meaningfully, since they’re all nearly zero.|
No campaigns were fully funded.
None with zero Facebook shares had any pledges.
Only four were shared on Google+ and of those, only 3 had pledges. As always, G+ is not relevant unless you’re a Google employee.
Only four had more than one person listed as being on the team.
14 of the 22 had no backers at all.
9 of the 22 asked for a six-figure or higher sum.
14 projects were not shared on Twitter. Of those, only 2 had pledges.
The biggest pledge was $1050. Of that $1025 was by someone related to (same last name as) the pitcher.
$64 average per campaign, or $19 not counting the bid by a relative.
I tried to find out what became of these pitches and whether they continued after the
failed campaign. Some point to domain parking pages, some to sites
not related to search at all, and at least one points to a malware
site. The best part about the malware site was that a popup said that my “Ubuntu needs
updating” and the update showed up as being for “Ubuntu by Microsoft, Inc.”
Hilarious. Can’t find it again or I’d share a screenshot.
Here are the ones I was able to find anything about:
Nintag (gone as of 2015-09) is a Nigerian search engine. If you search for the words Yoruba, Igbo, or Lagos you
find real results, most of which are based in Nigeria. If you search
for the word “cheese” you get zero results. I guess they don’t
have cheese in Nigeria, and that makes me a bit sad for them. Even though the results are somewhat questionable to a non-Nigerian,
they appear to be at least partially accomplishing their mission.
That’s good because Nigeria should have its own search engine. They
certainly have enough people to serve. I wish them well.
Jixty (gone as of 2015-09) exists. It’s not obvious at first glance, but based on the search results for
“pants” being essentially identical to Google, it looks like they’re a front end to Google (a google Custom Search Engine).
Iyiyes exists. It, too, appears to be a front-end to a Google custom search. I don’t
know why sites bother if a big bag of nothing is all they’re going to bring to the table. Google’s already doing Google.
MeSeek.com is also interesting. They had the strongest social effort and
scored the highest in my opinion of the different pitches, though
nobody had an “A” rating (but they could have had an amazing video presentation). MeSeek appears to let you rate search
results, but the results look like they came from Google (I can’t be sure). They have
news, horoscopes, and weather, a publisher program, stock quotes, an
advertising platform that only appears to show ads for MeSeek, and
even an article directory, too. You can even change your background on their site. It’s
also in the Alexa top million (around 200,000 as I write this). The campaign was started by a fella inamed Charles Forell, and I’d like to have a chat with him to see what he’s up to.
TheNet101 is also an interesting result. They’re a meta-search engine that includes results from Google, Bing, Blippex, Wikipedia, Blekko, Yelp, Archive.org, and Faroo.
Wait, what’s Blippex?
Blippex.org is a search engine that ranks results based on user engagement determined by using a browser plugin that measures “dwell time”. It’s a very Alexa-like system, one I understand well since I built one to gather data for Alytik, but it adds a bit more.
However, it appears that Blippex is the walking dead. Despite search being online and showing a URL count of 29.3 million, there haven’t been any blog posts since October 2013 and no Github activity since October 2013. This seems like an interesting idea that has been shelved, but not shut down yet. Neat, though, that you can change the search results by adjusting how much the dwell time and age metrics affect ranking.
Thank you, TheNet101.com, for introducing me a new and interesting search project, even if it may not still be active. Sorry your crowdfunding campaign didn’t work out.
In most of these pitches, the pitcher didn’t claim any particular domain knowledge required to build a search again, let alone claim software development skill. Combined with a scarcity of working demos, it’s unsurprising that none of these were funded.
Social sharing helps, and no sharing at all is pretty much a guarantee of failure.
Saying you are going to beat Google does not help. I wonder why.
IndieGoGo also doesn’t seem to be the best choice for funding a search engine.
Update September 2015: noted dead links