So new search upstart Cuil launched this week – with a search index currently at 120 billion pages (and growing).

They’ve got high-profile founders (a bunch of ex Googlers) and a heap of VC cash ($33 million).

So – only two questions

  1. Quality of offering
  2. Chance of success

How good is Cuil’s search?

Doing a side by side comparison with Google is unfair – Cuil launched yesterday while Google has had years to get it right. Regardless of how fair it was I thought I’d do the ultimate vanity-search acid test to check results.

First up the pretender;


Cuil found a heap of results. Most, other than a LinkedIn crawl, came from my previous blog which has been dead and buried for nearly a year (well it’s still there but no real traffic of note and no posting/comments.

And the current champ;


Google faired better. While the old blog came up in the results, the new one ( appears at spot three with my LinkedIn profile down to number five or so.

So overall it seems Cuil has done an initial scrape of the easily accessible information (LinkedIn is a lot of pages, pretty readily indexed)

What chance the pretender?

I’m fortunate that I wasn’t blogging back in Google’s early years – I’m sure I would have denied that they had any chance of beating the incumbents at the time – how wrong I would have been!

Having said that the Internet is a very different place now – Google has created themselves a pretty compelling argument around search – look at the number of toolbars out there all pushing out Google search – what would it take for a newcomer to beat the Plexers? It’s take a whole different level of search quality, but more importantly it would take a whole different level of compelling business model.

Cuil is pushing there new look search result display – this however is no killer feature. An interesting point of differentiation is that Cuil doesn’t retain users search data or surfing habits – possibly a bonus to the conspiracists out there but not enough to knock Google off any time soon.

Bottom line? – Cuil looks cool but don’t expect it to be a multi billion dollar company any time soon

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

  • And I was wondering how long it will take for someone to publish a post with this very title πŸ™‚

    As for your conclusion that Cuil’s approach to privacy may appeal to the users, I agree with you but I don’t think it can ever ensure mainstream popularity for the service – the majority of users have no idea that Google and other major search engines handle their privacy in a dubious manner.

  • Mm, and just a day ago I was talking with some mates about how vulnerable was google, and why I hadnt bought stock (because I couldn’t work out how vulnerable they were!).

    Search is fine, but seems to be a less than efficient method of getting to pages. When I think about my use of google, its more for remembering URLs than finding new pages, except for coding issues, which its great for.

    So I tend not to use google for pages that I will go back to again and again. They end up as bookmarks, or I (eventually) remember the URL. Google ends up being for the strange outlier situations that I might search once for.

    I think we need to move beyond search, and formalise the ‘proper’ way of organising the web. I mean, no one constantly searches for stuff in real life, they just remember it, or leave it in a specific place.

    Seems odd we’re still stuck with the search/bookmark paradigm. Theres got to be something better… semantic digg?

  • I don’t believe this is the way to go. Who cares how many zillion pages have been indexed.

    I want relevant pages ie probably pages that have been accessed and read by other people already.

    So i see a move to a smaller index as the way to go. It’s certainly the way we are heading πŸ™‚

  • @benkepes Wow, Cuil is just gone.

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