Will Cuil Kill Google?

First, there was Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO  ) . Then there was Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) . Is it Cuil's turn to take the throne in the search-engine kingdom?

The correct answer is "probably not," but there's too much at stake to write off Cuil completely.

For starters, there's a little Google pedigree in Cuil (which, contrary to instinct, is pronounced "cool" instead of "quill"). Google acquired the technology behind Anna Patterson's last search engine four years ago. She spent two years at Google after that before leaving the company, gradually constructing Cuil along with a few former Google engineers.

The site claims to scour far more of the Web than Google does. It promises to sift through more than 120 billion pages to arrive at the best results. Google no longer publicly offers up its breadth, though its silence there will only stir up the hype that Cuil is, in fact, the new Google.

But for Cuil, search-engine supremacy isn't a matter of breadth, or even depth. Google has a well-known brand, existing search relationships with the likes of Time Warner's (NYSE: TWX  ) AOL and News Corp.'s (NYSE: NWS  ) MySpace, and an army of installed toolbars and Google AdSense spots on countless third-party sites.

Cuil may or may not offer superior searching. A few sample searches on both engines found Google delivering more results, though the actual quality of those results will always be subjective.

The key is that Google can't ignore an attack from engineers it once found hire-worthy, much less the mastermind behind a technology it once found worth buying.

Fade to black
Cuil is different. You feel it the moment you load the site. Instead of the standard white background you find on Google, Yahoo!, and the inner frame of Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) Live Search, Cuil's backing is pitch black, as in Spinal Tap Smell the Glove "none more black" black. Unlike the growing number of options you find on established portals, all Cuil offers is the logo search box, above links to the site's privacy statement and about page.

The info page details the origin of the name -- Gaelic for "knowledge," supposedly -- and feature's Cuil's claim to have indexed three times as many pages as Google, and 10 times as many pages as Microsoft. Again, this won't be the lone barometer of success, but it certainly will help Cuil win media coverage and tire-kicking interest.

Search results are also delivered in a unique way. Since the website currently features no sponsored ads, Cuil can offer up results in several columns. If you thought IAC's (Nasdaq: IACI  ) Ask.com brought something new to the table when it introduced landing-page thumbnails, Cuil rearranges the entire tabletop.

Where will Cuil be in a year?
Cuil's launch and media blitz will keep the site busy over the next few days. The strength of the management team -- down to the founding CTO of 1990s search stalwart AltaVista -- warrant as much. The key will be to get visitors to bookmark the site, or ideally make it their new home page.

The even bigger challenge down the road lies in how Cuil will be monetized. It doesn't have to be, of course. Sites like Wikipedia and Craigslist have probably thrived as a result of their ad-repelling ways. However, Google commands a $150 billion market cap, with 99% of its revenue coming from online advertising. It's hard to believe that Cuil will pass up such a chance, should it grow popular enough to cash in via the lucrative paid-search market.

The bigger question is whether it will even get that far. If Cuil gains momentum over the next few months, do you really think that Microsoft or Yahoo! will sit back and let someone else eat further into their dwindling market-share slices? The most likely scenario is that a rising Cuil becomes buyout fodder, with Microsoft outbidding Yahoo! to snuff out a threat and gain more ammunition against Google.   

The other scenario is that Cuil will fade, just as once-budding search stars such as AltaVista, Lycos, and LookSmart (Nasdaq: LOOK  ) also fell from temporary grace. AltaVista and Lycos were right up there with Yahoo! in the late 1990s. LookSmart once powered Microsoft's paid-search efforts.

I happen to like Cuil's chances, though. Its timing couldn't be better, at a time when Web users are gun-shy over how search engines are keeping and manipulating search history data. If Cuil becomes the new "do no evil" player, it could be a feel-good winner.

Watch your back, Google -- no matter how far away the items in the rearview mirror appear to be.

Digg deeper into social news:

Microsoft is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is always searching for search solutions. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.


Read/Post Comments (29) | Recommend This Article (16)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On July 28, 2008, at 1:01 PM, tonydan36 wrote:

    i tried cuil

    i dont like it

    too many useless results

    dont like the layout of the results

    lastly, it will die.

    cuil = dead already

    as for selling out for their technology = maybe.

  • Report this Comment On July 28, 2008, at 1:10 PM, robertsnell wrote:

    Cuil in its current state is terrible. As I said on my blog; I give Cuil.com a big two thumbs down, for poor localization, speed, inability to sort and present the data they have collected and for way too much hype around a sub standard service. If your trying to get people to switch then presenting a half as_ed product wont do it for you.

    http://blog.snell.ca

  • Report this Comment On July 28, 2008, at 1:37 PM, ArchieIndian wrote:

    Cuil aint that good...just not good enough...Google is much ahead as of now..I tried my own name and got much better results on google...

    Google rules..atleast as of now..

  • Report this Comment On July 28, 2008, at 1:38 PM, dazzerart wrote:

    I'm not sure about the layout either but what annoys me even more is the name 'cuil'

    You think they would of thought of a better, more catchy name, it's sounds crap even if you manage to pronounce it properly.

  • Report this Comment On July 28, 2008, at 1:43 PM, strangejoe wrote:

    This seems to be the worst site engine I have ever tried. Search results seemed to be nothing but paid ads. Those displayed were extremely weak on content and only strong on site names. Kuil said they found almost 40,000 but when the second tier list was selected it reported no results had been found.

  • Report this Comment On July 28, 2008, at 1:49 PM, eldorian wrote:

    I tried Cuil

    I liked it

    I think Cuil = more life and meaning.

    I can almost smell Microsoft and Yahoo scrambling...

    I can also most certainly smell Google Lords straightening theirs ties and telling every one in the room to calm down...

    Laffs .

    Life Just got more interesting.

    Obichime.,

  • Report this Comment On July 28, 2008, at 1:50 PM, tinplate wrote:

    Don't see the point of using cuil. Search results were unimpressive, and the occasional result showing a little embedded image showed images having absolutely nothing to do with the link to which they were attached.

  • Report this Comment On July 28, 2008, at 2:02 PM, tehmer wrote:

    ever tried to find non-english pages ?

    lots of homework to do...

  • Report this Comment On July 28, 2008, at 2:17 PM, cyberpage wrote:

    I pretty much doubt it, nevertheless it comes with interesting features, such as images nest to the search results, and parental controls for porn or "objectionable material" turned on. So our kids can be kids for longer, and not be exposed to inappropriate things.

    I am making a blog to follow up on cuil

    http://cuilsearchengine.blogspot.com/

    Iaax Page

    Software, ingenieria y Diseño

  • Report this Comment On July 28, 2008, at 2:20 PM, kaskoosek wrote:

    This is a crappy site.

    Search results have no relevance at all.

  • Report this Comment On July 28, 2008, at 2:31 PM, jdoss10000 wrote:

    It's got a long way to go before users start giving up Google, Yahoo, or MSN search.

  • Report this Comment On July 28, 2008, at 2:42 PM, mindmuse wrote:

    Uh, did somebody unplug something at this company? Four of my first five searches brought up ZERO results (all of topics or products I've recently explored online). WTF?! The one that did bring up results had tabbed categories to refine the search - every one of which claimed it didn't find any results! This is so not ready even for a pre-alpha release. Pathetic.

  • Report this Comment On July 28, 2008, at 2:46 PM, Flatfell wrote:

    I tried something a little esoteric:

    Google returned 1,034,345 results in the standard 10 results per page format.

    Cuil returned 326 results, but only displayed one of them. It was entrely relevant to my search, though.

    It will have to do better to survive a week, never three months.

  • Report this Comment On July 28, 2008, at 3:04 PM, BuddyDeez wrote:

    Cuil = Crash

    No bueno

  • Report this Comment On July 28, 2008, at 3:15 PM, funkadelichika wrote:

    It's its first day out no? I believe this search engine has the potential to be very great. I like the differen't look. The differen't way of searching. It just is differen't. I am favorable of the idea that it doesn't save what I search but it does offer up words as I am typing in what I want to search. I hope they fix it and I hope it reaches greater heights then google. Hail the new wave of searching! :P :)

  • Report this Comment On July 28, 2008, at 3:22 PM, pagisky wrote:

    why not ?

    before google there was altavista and nothernlight, after google can be cuil.

    Just monitoring cuil's evolution before all comments.

  • Report this Comment On July 28, 2008, at 3:40 PM, jackdaniels08 wrote:

    BORING! Another Google challenger. GET IN LINE with all the other Google wannabes. Mention that you are challenging Google, add a twist and wallah! Instant top fold billing headlines. ***NEWS FLASH*** just coming off the wire. Cuil changes its name to YAUSE. That stands for Yet Another Useless Search Engine.

  • Report this Comment On July 28, 2008, at 3:51 PM, zadge wrote:

    Cuil is not good from what I can tell. The first two searches produced only paid ads on the first two pages. This will not work for anyone who actually uses the web for gathering information. Cuil may search a lot of sites, but if they are all ads it is worthless to this user.

  • Report this Comment On July 29, 2008, at 7:52 AM, KWT8011 wrote:

    Yea not impressed with Cuil, but I heed the words of Bill Gates when he said Google reminds him of early Microsoft days. He called it the honeymoon when everything they touched turned to gold, products were innovative and flawless, and no one could imagine someone competing. Google's honeymoon will end eventually, and they'll flub some things along the way.

    To me, it's not about search anymore. It's about everything else the company can offer. I love google maps and gmail and RSS feeds. Picasa is easy to use. I use them for search just because I use everything else they offer. A site will have to challenge them in that aspect to "kill Google"

  • Report this Comment On July 30, 2008, at 9:36 PM, Back2TheFuture wrote:

    NO; CUIL WILL NOT KILL GOOGLE... IT IS JUST A DEPLOY OUT OF PANIC TO THE NEW SEARCH ENGINE... WWW.DOODALIE.COM THAT DOES EXIST. THIS IS ACTUALLY THE REAL KILLER. WHEREAS; I'M THE CEO OF DOODALIE.COM AND I AM ASKING EVERYONE TO TRY MY SEARCH ENGINE FOR ONE WEEK (NON BIAS.) TRY EVERYLINK, COMPARE SEARCH RESULTS. AS I'M AN HONEST MERCHANT THAT THE MEDIA HAS CLOSED THE DOORS IN MY FACE. HERE IS PROOF... SEE LINK BELOW

    www.podonblast.com/blasted/ARTIFACT.wav

  • Report this Comment On July 30, 2008, at 9:45 PM, Back2TheFuture wrote:

    I KNOW THAT YOUR OUT THERE, I DON'T KNOW WHO YOU ARE, BUT I KNOW THAT YOUR AFRAID OF ME. YOU CAN'T STOP ME, BECAUSE I KNOW WHO I AM NOW... I'M GOING TO SHOW THESE PEOPLE THE WORLD THAT YOU DON'T WANT THEM TO SEE... YOUR SYSTEM WILL NOT LET ME THROUGH, BUT I WILL NOT STOP... THE PEOPLE WILL RECEIVE ME...

  • Report this Comment On July 31, 2008, at 5:03 PM, panqa100 wrote:

    i tried cuil it looks useless to me...

  • Report this Comment On July 31, 2008, at 5:04 PM, panqa100 wrote:

    i haet cuil...even yahoo search is way better

  • Report this Comment On July 31, 2008, at 5:07 PM, panqa100 wrote:

    whi can't i see my comments

  • Report this Comment On August 01, 2008, at 2:44 PM, hardrive118 wrote:

    maybe we're all biased because we're so used to google, but i've given cuil many chances this week and they're results are useless. indexing 3 times as many pages also means 3 times as much junk. how many of us want to search the entire internet? personally i just want to get something useful and get on with my life. i don't want to spend much time sifting through results.

  • Report this Comment On August 01, 2008, at 2:45 PM, hardrive118 wrote:

    maybe we're all biased because we're so used to google, but i've given cuil many chances this week and they're results are useless. indexing 3 times as many pages also means 3 times as much junk. how many of us want to search the entire internet? personally i just want to get something useful and get on with my life. i don't want to spend much time sifting through results.

  • Report this Comment On August 01, 2008, at 2:45 PM, hardrive118 wrote:

    maybe we're all biased because we're so used to google, but i've given cuil many chances this week and they're results are useless. indexing 3 times as many pages also means 3 times as much junk. how many of us want to search the entire internet? personally i just want to get something useful and get on with my life. i don't want to spend much time sifting through results.

  • Report this Comment On August 07, 2008, at 2:57 PM, gsstorms wrote:

    Cuil is so incredibly bad in every aspect that i'm almost starting to think that it was created by Google as some kind of joke

  • Report this Comment On August 07, 2008, at 2:58 PM, gsstorms wrote:

    Cuil is so incredibly bad in every aspect that i'm almost starting to think that it was created by Google as some kind of joke

Add your comment.

DocumentId: 693926, ~/Articles/ArticleHandler.aspx, 8/2/2014 5:30:16 AM

Report This Comment

Use this area to report a comment that you believe is in violation of the community guidelines. Our team will review the entry and take any appropriate action.

Sending report...


Advertisement