Ain't It Cuil? New Search Engine Challenges Google

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Pronounced "cool," the company said that it has developed new architecture and algorithms and that its search engine has indexed 120 billion Web pages, which Cuil said is three times the number of pages as Google and 10 times as many as Microsoft. It's not clear how Cuil calculated its numbers in its comparison to Google. Although Google normally does not divulge its stats, two of its engineers on Friday posted a note on the company's blog and said that the search engine has reached the milestone of 1 trillion unique URLs at once on the Web.

Cuil said it can accomplish this by searching and ranking pages based on content and relevance rather than what Cuil calls "superficial popularity metrics." When the search engine finds a page with keywords, it stays on the page and analyzes the rest of its content, concepts and inter-relationships and coherency.

"The Internet has grown exponentially in the last 15 years but search engines have not kept up," the company said in a statement. "Popularity is useful, but has dominated search results so heavily that it gets harder and harder to find the page you want, especially if your search is a complex one. For a deeper search, establishing relevancy is more than a numbers game. Cuil prefers to find all the pages with your keyword or phrase and then analyze the rest of the content on those pages. During this analysis we discover that your keywords have different meanings in different contexts."

Cuil's robot Web crawler, Twicler, supports the robots.txt Crawl-delay directive robots.txt to help small sites that are bandwidth-limited.

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The company also said that because it analyzes Web pages and not click-throughs, the company said it doesn't know user search histories and habits.

Cuil -- an old Irish word for knowledge -- was co-founded by Tom Costello, CEO; his wife, Anna Patterson, president and Russell Power, vice president of engineering. Costello was at IBM where he developed the prototype of WebFountain, a member of IBM's strategy team for Storage Systems Strategy worldwide and drove the development of the company's Homeland Security strategy. Patterson joined Google in 2004 after designing, writing and selling Recall -- the largest search engine in existence at the time at 12 billion pages. She was also the architect of Google's large search index, TeraGoogle, that launched in early 2006. Power worked with BEA Systems in their Advanced Research Group, and later joined Google as the technical lead for the serving part of TeraGoogle.

Through two rounds of financing from private equity firms Greylock, Madrone Capital Partners and Tugboat Ventures, Cuil has raised $33 million.

"Since we met at Stanford, Tom and I have shared a vision of the ideal search engine," said Anna Patterson, in a statment. "Our team approaches search differently. By leveraging our expertise in search architecture and relevance methods, we've built a more efficient yet richer search engine from the ground up. The Internet has grown and we think it's time search did too."