ADOTAS — I’ve been fascinated by social search engine Blekko, which uses human curation to power its slashtag search. After originally dismissing the engine as gimmicky, its potential revealed itself through Vivek Wadhwa’s New Year’s Day call to arms, “Why We Desperately Need a New (and Better) Google.” He discussed how his students found the social search of Blekko to be a far more effective tool for research than spam-infested Google.
During a Farsight 2011 panel I would have killed to attend (watch the whole thing or read Wadhwa’s take), Wadhwa moderated a panel featuring Google Search Maestro Matt Cuts, Bing Corporate VP of Core Search Dr. Harry Shum and Blekko CEO Rich Skrenta. While Skrenta gots some good jabs in there, the majority of the panel was taken up by Cuts and Shum bickering about Bing using Google’s results as a data input.
As TechCrunch’s Alexia Tsotsis poetically describes it, “Blekko CEO Rich Skrenta looked on, more a human symbol of the call for greater market diversity than anything else.” Even Skrenta’s stage-right chair seems positioned far away from the mud-fight between Bing and Google.
A few weeks ago, Cuts wrote a very vague blog post about Google’s plan to battle content farms. Blekko, on the other hand, decided to ban these sites from its search results:
In addition to the nearly $25 million the firm has raised from the likes of Marc Andreessen, Ron Conway and Jeff Clavier is a $200,000 investment by… actor Ashton Kutchner. If he becomes a well-respected venture capitalist, will he stop making movies and commercials?
In other words, Blekko has buzz — but is there anything behind it?
Well, the company has just released its January numbers — last month the search engine saw 30 million queries and its traffic is even higher than its launch pop. At its apex, it was receiving one million daily, one every 10 to 15 seconds. Blekko also boasts 110,000 slash tags created by its human curators.
Google had an average 88 billion U.S. monthly searches in 2009, a number that most likely went up last year.
So, Blekko is not drastically cutting into the search market, but the company is getting attention. Do you think it will continue to catch on or is its 15 minutes of fame about to end?