A Xoogler Wants to Do Search: Channeling Exalead and Smoking InfinitySearch?

July 16, 2021

Remember Exalead. This was a search engine created by a person who was asked to join the Google. The system was very good: 64 bit architecture, timely indexing of new and previously indexed sites, and novel features like searching via text for a specific point in an Exalead processed video. Now the system is part of Dassault Systèmes because senior management grew frustrated with one of the aggressively marketed “smart systems” available in the mid 2000s.

Now a Xoogler realizes that Google search is just an artifact of the Backrub search and retrieval system. What was “clever” in 1998 now generally a version of MySpace.com. Maybe anigifs are in the fridge waiting to become the next big thing at the GOOG.

Now there’s a new Google called Neeva, a subscription-based, allegedly non-tracking, ad-free alternative to Google. Plus, Neeva, is out of beta—let the marketing begin! Fast Company explores the new search engine and its developers in depth in, “Inside Neeva, the Ad-Free, Privacy-First Search Engine from Ex-Googlers.” (Keep in mind that InfinitySearch.co is a new search engine with an almost identical subscription business model. Haven’t heart of InfinitySearch? Hmmm. What about Okeano? Oh, not that system either? Hmmm.)

Co-founders Sridhar Ramaswamy and Vivek Raghunathan, who both used to work at Google, had front-row seats to the dominant search engine’s evolution. They were unhappy to see advertising become more and more intrusive over the years. They are betting many users are ready to pay a $4.95 a month to access what Google could have been if it were not in hot pursuit of the almighty ad dollar. Anyone who has been googling for years has watched ads migrate from a relatively unobtrusive position on the right of the page to the top of search results. For a while after that shift they were delineated by a shaded box, but now they suspiciously blend into the organic results. Google also started pushing links to its own services to the top, even when a competitor might better serve the searcher’s needs. The Fast Company write up states:

“Then there’s the fact that Google builds profiles of its users based on their online activity, the better to precisely target them with advertising not only at its own sites but all the other ones across the web whose ads are powered by Google. With no ads to serve up, Neeva shouldn’t leave privacy-conscious types feeling like they’re being monitored for ulterior purposes. (By default, Neeva does hold onto your searches for 90 days to improve the quality of features such as autosuggestions, but you can erase this log or tell the service you don’t want it to keep it in the first place.) In another break from search-engine tradition, Neeva says that it will turn at least 20 percent of its top-line revenue over to publishing partners, including the first two it’s announced, Quora and Medium. Though the details of where this could lead remain vague, it’s another attempt to set Neeva apart from Google, which has often been accused of benefiting from media outlets’ content without adequate compensation, a long-simmering dispute that has led to lawsuits and legislation.”

The founders hired on several other ex-Googlers. The team worked to create a platform that is close enough to their former employer’s to feel familiar while nixing all the advertising misery. To do this, Neeva blends its own indexing with results from Apple, Bing, Yelp, Intrinio, Weather.com, Xignite, and even Google Maps. McCracken reports the platform performs well for most tasks, falling short only on local searches. There is also the small inconvenience that, as of this writing, Chrome is the only browser that lets one set Neeva as the default search platform. Is this an acquisition-friendly move. See the Fast Company article for more on Neeva’s features as well as details on Ramaswamy’s and Raghunathan’s experiences that led them down the path to this adventure.

And you can check out Exalead search at this link. Yep, still online. May I suggest the Web, video, and forums search be expanded and enhanced. As I said, it was quite good.

Cynthia Murrell, July 16, 2021

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One Response to “A Xoogler Wants to Do Search: Channeling Exalead and Smoking InfinitySearch?”

  1. Is there now a business in paid-for web search? - Informer on August 7th, 2021 7:43 am

    […] would commend a blog post by Stephen Arnold on the future of paid-for web search, prompted by the release of Neeva which comes free for three […]

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