A new search engine is getting wide publicity this week after featuring in an Associated Press report. ‘Cuil' (pronounced "cool") is the brainchild of Anna Patterson, who's last Internet search engine was acquired by Google in 2004 to boost its own now dominant system.
Patterson left Google in 2006, and the report reveals that this time her work is not for sale, and she has ambitions to challenge the giant Google itself. Helping her do that are husband Tom Costello and two other Google search software engineers.
Early indications are that she may be well placed to achieve big things, having secured over $33 million in venture capital.
Patterson claims that Cuil's search index spans 120 billion Web pages – at least three times the size of Google's index estimated by last known numbers.
That claim is refuted by Google spokespeople, who have blogged that Google regularly scans through 1 trillion unique Web links. Google said it doesn't index them all because they either point to similar content or would diminish the quality of its search results in some other way.
Cuil is said to be competitive with Google in other ways, too including its method for identifying and displaying pertinent results.
Associated Press reports that rather than trying to mimic Google's method of ranking the quantity and quality of links to Web sites, Cuil's technology drills into the actual content of a page, with results presented in a more magazine-like format instead of just a vertical stack of Web links.
Cuil's results are displayed with more photos spread horizontally across the page and include sidebars that can be clicked on to learn more about topics related to the original search request.
Finally, Cuil is hoping to attract traffic by promising not to retain information about its users' search histories or surfing patterns – something that Google does, much to the consternation of privacy watchdogs.
In May, Google held a 62 percent share of the U.S. search market followed by Yahoo at 21 percent and Microsoft at 8.5 percent, according to comScore Inc.
Google welcomed Cuil competition, with a spokesman saying: "Having great competitors is a huge benefit to us and everyone in the search space. It makes us all work harder, and at the end of the day our users benefit from that."
Associated Press reports that Patterson joined Google in 2004 after she built and sold Recall to Google. She and her colleague Power worked on the same team at the giant search engine firm. Her other partner, Monier also worked at Google but is best known as the former chief technology officer of AltaVista. Monier also helped build the search engine on eBay's online auction site.
Patterson's husband, Costello, built a once-promising search engine called Xift in the late 1990s. He later joined IBM Corp., where he worked on an "analytic engine" called WebFountain.