Cuil Search “Ah Ha! NOW I GET IT!”


OK, I have a mild conspiracy hypothesis about Cuil that helps explain what I see as the glaring problems with this new entrant into the search landscape.   I should say that I don’t know any of the founders so it’s presumptuous to suggest their motivations are not purely to create a great search engine.   All I can assert reasonably is that even if great search is their prime goal, they have a wonderful fallback in terms of getting bought out by Google to protect their secrets or another big player who wants to get at Google secrets indirectly.

Here is the evidence for the buyout hypothesis:

1)  Cuil results are formatted in a crappy way.    It’s hard to scan and review results.  Dramatically inferior to other search engines in my view.

2) Results are not very relevant.    Searching for “computers” yields….nothing.    Cuil cannot even find  “Cuil Search Engine”.   Sure, building a huge search index is very difficult, but Cuil had time, expertise, and resources.  So why such a lackluster relevance debut?

3) No revenue model except the ubiquitous and vague suggestion of monetizing through “advertising”.  Given 1 and 2 it’s going to be hard for Cuil to turn a buck in current form, especially because after all the initial buzz dies they’ll be left with …. very little traffic.

Given this and Glenn’s earlier comment about great new technology at Cuil suddenly it hit me.   BAM! Cuil probably has little or no intention of existing in current form for more than a year or so.    Like Powerset, Cuil secretly planned and plotted in stealth mode, suggesting to insiders they were the next big thing.  Then, when  they had something that basically worked (or in the case of Powerset worked on a limited basis), they launched to great fanfare.    They have improvements on Google’s dated hardware framework and probably have included many of the same features in the Cuil algorithm, coded differently enough to elude legal entanglements.

Now it’s time to shop yourself out to the highest bidder, and in this respect  Cuil is looking at some very, very high bids even though they don’t seem to be a very good search engine. Why the big bids?    Cuil’s team was from Google and no doubt has a lot of specialized, inside information about how Google works.    Due to disclosure and other legal issues I’d guess the Cuil team has been very careful to create something that is new and unique yet includes enough Googley technology to be of concern to Google and of great interest to Microsoft or Yahoo or AOL or Fox or …. ?

The stakes in search are extremely high, and these Google insiders saw a super opportunity to do one of two things:   Improve on Google and be the richest people in history OR   build a modest quality search engine with some Google technology, hype it, and become super rich.     Based on early tests and reviews the first option is out, but the second one is looming large for the lucky Cuil winners.     Powerset sold for $100,000,000 and only managed to index Wikipedia (and not very well at that).    With Cuil I’m guessing the bidding’s going to start quite a bit above that.    Hmmmm – let’s see what Cuil turns up on a search for …

$$$ Cha Ching $$$

Cuil Search – what am I missing about all that they are missing?


TechCrunch and others are waxing almost poetically about the new Cuil search engines, designed by ex Googlers to compete with the mother ship.    But after a few scattershot queries I’m just not feeling the power of Cuil.    It still is failing to find itself for what seems like an obvious query of “Cuil Search Engine”, and for the query “computers” I’d expect a bit more than this among Cuil’s claimed inventory of 121 billion web pages:

We didn’t find any results for “computers”

Some reasons might be…

  • a typo. Please check your spelling.
  • your search includes a term that is very rare. Try to find a more common substitute.
  • too many search terms. Please try fewer terms.

Finally, try to think of different words to describe your search.

Obviously Cuil is missing a LOT of stuff, so what am I missing here?

Update:  I’m still waiting to be impressed, but have learned that Cuil’s architecture is such that if some of the servers go down you can get empty results as I did last night.   Now, ‘Computers’ does turn up relevant results.