PlayerSearch Blog

by Ted Kasten, Founder of PlayerSearch

Surprise, surprise…Microsoft acquires another search start-up (Powerset)

As everyone knows, Microsoft has publicly stated many times that they are going to be aggressive in their pursuit of Google (with or without Yahoo). They recently announced they are buying Powerset, a “natural language” search engine that recently released its beta product. While the beta product only searched Wikipedia, and the results weren’t any better than Google’s search of Wikipedia, the UI was innovative and they are one step ahead on natural language search which is apparently worth close to $100 million to Microsoft.

After releasing their Beta product, Powerset was at a major decision point of whether to continue to fight the search battle alone or sell to one of the larger search engines. It would have required another $50-$100 million (on top of the $20mm they already raised) to start indexing the entire web themselves and to remain independent. It was certainly a great move to join Microsoft as they have huge incentive and deep pockets to invest heavily in what Powerset started in order to compete with Google. I hope we see Powerset features in live search very soon (they claim some features will roll-out by year end).

Michael Arrington of TechCrunch interviewed the Powerset Founders here.

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July 2, 2008 Posted by | Acquisitions, Innovations in Search, Semantic Search | , | Leave a comment

Interview with Powerset COO and Founder

Folksonomy.org interviewed Steve Newcomb, the COO and Founder of PowerSet. PowerSet is the most talked about natural language search engine that is still in development. In the interview, Steve talks about the enormous expense of building a semantic based search engine.

“Building a semantic index is many times more expensive than building a keyword index. In fact, until recently it was financially impossible to use our same technology to build a search engine. Just a few years ago, all the computing power in the world wouldn’t have been enough to process that much information, as deeply and as fast as we need it to be processed.”

Steve goes on to discuss the breakthroughs that they have made to make this possible financially and technically. The expense is enormous and PowerSet will need to truly be a game changer in search to compete with Google. With the size of the search market, an incremental improvement in search results may be enough to justify the expense of building a semantic search engine through a sale to Google or Microsoft/Yahoo (probably in the low hundreds of millions), but I don’t see an incremental improvement being enough to dramatically change usage patterns of Google users (worth billions!).

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April 7, 2008 Posted by | Semantic Search | , , | 2 Comments