[CNET] Idealab Prepping New Search Engine

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From: Adam Rifkin -4K (adam@XeNT.ics.uci.edu)
Date: Thu Mar 09 2000 - 02:34:59 PST

Several thoughts come to mind while reading this:

1. Idealab spent $1.2 million on the domain name Find.com?!

2. Idealab is building their own version of the Open Directory?!

3. Idealab is building Yet Another Search Engine?!

4. Idealab sold its floundering Metasearch.com project to Find.com?!

5. Find.com has neither a business plan nor a release date, but they're
already talking with the press trying to create buzz?!

It's impossible to mock cruddy Idealab spinoffs, because their mere
existence is mockery unto itself. Idealab is the company that inflicted
eToys and Goto.com onto the investors of the world, after all. You know
the kind of company I'm talking about: the ones that never made a
profit, lose money on every transaction, and promise to make it up on

[It's been said time and time again that the only truly successful model
for making money off the Internet is selling one's stock, as the recent
$2 billion secondary offering by Network Solutions has demonstrated.
Some companies are more open about it -- CMGi for example has based its
entire existence on cooking up savory "flavors" of stock to appeal to
investors' multivariate palates. Some companies are more sneaky about
it -- witness the huge amounts of insider sales every time the "sell
window" opens for Amazon's stock, or scAmazon's love for "convertible"
bonds, or their insistence that their book division is "profitable" even
though the other parts of Amazon aren't. Though even I gotta admit, if
Amazon gets a couple more patents like 1-clicking and the Affiliate
Program patents, they could become a sit-back-and-collect-the-royalties
company like Qualcomm seems to want to be...]

There are many more cruddy spinoffs in Idealab's pipeline waiting to
steal retail investor dollars, including Idealab itself. [I guess
compared to most of the companies in their pipeline, NetZero,
Citysearch, PayMyBills, PayPal, and was-Pointcast-now-EntryPoint don't
seem *completely* awful. At least not until you notice that the market
is willing to give them billion dollar valuations...]

> Idealab prepping new search engine
> By Jim Hu
> Staff Writer, CNET News.com
> March 8, 2000, 4:00 p.m. PT
> Net entrepreneur Bill Gross' Idealab is quietly taking another crack at
> creating a Web search engine.
> The Internet incubator--which helped launch local guide service
> CitySearch, online retailer eToys, and free online access provider
> NetZero--is testing a new search concept called Find.com. The site,
> which Idealab has not formally unveiled, is trying to build several
> search engines organized by topic and is soliciting input from Web
> users.
> "Find.com is dedicated to creating many focused, topic-based search
> engines, rather than one broad-based search," the site reads.
> Although Idealab has backed other Internet search ventures, including
> GoTo.com, its latest foray appears to build on a new trend that aims to
> provide more relevant results through a combination of human and
> technological filters.
> A host of newcomers are taking on search engine leaders such as Inktomi
> and AltaVista by carving out specialty sites, while many of the larger
> players are refining their offerings. Despite the glut of search
> products, analysts said there may be room for more as demand for
> services continues to grow.
> "I'm amazed--almost tired--at how many search products keep coming out,"
> said Danny Sullivan, editor of SearchEngineWatch.com, a newsletter
> dedicated to search services. "But there's still such a huge demand that
> if they build another search brand, they can attract different segments
> of the population."
> Cracking into the market can be difficult, however. According to a note
> on the Find.com Web site, the new company has absorbed another Idealab
> search company, Metasearch.com, which apparently never took off.
> Metasearching is a method that queries several search engines at once
> and compiles the results in one place.
> Find.com, by contrast, will rely heavily on human editors to develop
> directories of Web pages--another trend in Internet search.
> Branding also appears to be a major part of the Find.com strategy. In
> January, Idealab paid $1.2 million in a cash and stock purchase of the
> domain name from Find/SVP, a New York-based business research service.
> Though the company would not provide specific details of its plans, the
> site provides some hints. Find.com gives two columns for search results.
> The left column features links "from the editor," which can connect
> people to other sites relevant to the query. When appropriate, the
> editorial column also includes links to other categories and services,
> such as e-commerce sites, CitySearch's local listings and weather
> reports.
> The right column features search results by GoTo.com, which sells Web
> sites the right to be ranked, with top spots going to the highest
> bidder.
> Find.com is still in preview mode, so its business plan has not been
> formally disclosed, according to Teresa Bridwell, an Idealab
> spokeswoman. She also declined to give a launch date for the site and
> added that the concept behind the site is liable to change.
> "It is standard practice for us to do prototyping on our site and make
> refinements before we launch it," she said.
> Bridwell did confirm, however, that Find.com is a company within
> Idealab, and that it is looking to staff its management ranks.


Keep your eye on the ball, your shoulder to the wheel, your nose to the grindstone, your feet on the ground, and your head on your shoulders. Now... try to get something done.

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