Cuil, who have seen their traffic tumble into free fall since their much-hyped (but severely botched) launch, have suffered another blow today, as TechCrunch reports that VP Product, Louis Monier, has quit the company:
“Louis Monier, Cuil’s VP Product, quietly resigned from the newly launched search engine last week, we’ve heard from a reliable source. “
Monier was one of the big draws for the simply stunning amount of PR that Cuil generated – he was hired away from Google last year in a major coup for the young start up, but is even more well known as the Father of AltaVista, everyone’s favorite search engine before Google came along. His departure is thought to be related to the path Cuil should take.
With a resume which also includes stints at Xerox PARC, Ebay and Google, Monier is regarded as one of the big names in tech and search, so the blow will be a huge one for Cuil. After all, he left Alta Vista, then the #1 search engine, after a similar disagreement over the move from straight search to becoming a portal (how 1999!)..and look what happened to AV after that.
Why Cuil is not a Google-killer.
It’s fair to say that most search engine news is outside of the mainstream. CNN doesn’t usually cover every algorithm update. So when we have 3 clients contact us within hours of a new search engine launch, we can be pretty sure that it must be generating some buzz.
That is certainly the case with Cuil.
It’s founded by a “trio of former Googlers”. The search index is more than 120 billion pages, “three times the size of Google’s index”. It promises to be “more comprehensive and more relevant (than Google)”. And so on, and so on.
It seems that everyone is so invested in finding a challenger to the virtual monopoly that Google has on search that they aren’t looking at the bigger picture. People use Google not because they have to, but because Google works. Google has been the clear leader since it launched, and everyone else is still playing catch-up. If Microsoft and Yahoo, with all their billions of dollars sloshing around can’t compete (and they can’t) then a new upstart like Cuil has no chance, however many column inches of news they grab.
120 billion pages index might make for good attention grabbing copy, but it’s virtually meaningless. People use a search engine to find things, it’s as simple as that. Cuil fails on that very simple measurement. It may have the largest index, but the results are in many cases, useless. Even in the areas where the results are relevant, they are not *more* relevant than Google’s. So why switch?
I tried some side by side comparisons:
|New York Hotels
||A map with hotels marked. A list of local hotels. Both individual and directory sites, all focused on NY hotels
||Some individual hotels in NY. Some generic travel sites, like Tripadvisor. Links to the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award Winners, Vaudeville Performers and the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Hmmm….
||The official site. How stuff Works and Wikipedia entries. No spam.
||The official site. The FDA home page. A lot of ‘Buy Generic Viagra’/'Herbal viagra’ spam.
||Wikipedia entry. Weather in Tainan. MyAreaGuide to the city. Walking tour of Tainan.
||“No results were found for: Tainan, Taiwan. If you’ve checked your spelling, you could try using fewer or different keywords to broaden your search.”
I can’t see, as it currently stands, any reason why people would switch from Google to Cuil. Maybe I’ll be proved wrong, and I’ll happily admit it if so, but for right now, Cuil is anything but.