Cuil? Not So Much


"I tried it for an hour," wrote a commentator on the TG Daily Website. "Any multi-word search generated completely useless results, which seemed completely random. By contrast, Google comes up with quality, relevant results. Cuil works about as well as if I typed random URLs into the browser. Absolutely useless!"

Said a commentator on ChannelWeb's message board, "I just tried out Cuil and sadly, it failed to generate any results for my name and many other not so standard queries, whereas Google, Yahoo and even MSN get many results accurately."

Other commentators were scratching their heads over Cuil's boast that it was the "world's biggest search engine," with an indexed 120 billion Web pages. The company said the number 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.

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Cuil has 30 employees, of which 18 are engineers, according to Vince Sollitto, vice president of communications, who said that despite problems, the company is extremely proud of the search engine. In response to criticisms, Sollitto said that users should keep in mind that the site was started "completely from scratch" and that there is "a tremendous uphill march," to smooth out problems.

"We've been up for 24 hours now and there are going to be kinks and bugs," said Sollitto. "We were met with a tremendous amount of interest and got absolutely hammered."

Google seemed to take the new competition in stride. "We welcome competition that stimulates innovation and provides users with more choice," said a Google spokesperson who asked not to be identified. "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."

Cuil 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, was 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.

Even with those impressive credentials, frustrated commentators still posted snarky comments over the search engine's lack of finesse.

"I don't think Google needs to worry and#8212; in fact they should be glad that the team behind Cuil is their former employees and are not working with them anymore," wrote another ChannelWeb commentator.

However, others did not jump on the bashing bandwagon, and urged patience given that the site is so new, and might have been affected by server overload and scaling issues. In fact, some even inquired as to when the company would go public.

"I have been using Cuil since early this morning and have adapted to it very well," wrote another commentator on ChannelWeb. "It's not as in depth as Google however it's brand new. Google did not have this decent functionality when it first began. I believe the programmers of Cuil have done an outstanding job just to get it this far and look for even more to come from it. I will buy stock in this company as soon as it becomes available."