Nowhere has the need for a more diverse search market been more apparent than this week’s revelation that Bing was cribbing Google’s notes.
While Microsoft VP Harry Shum and Google’s Matt Cutts squabbled on a panel together at the Farsight 2011 conference, Blekko CEO Rich Skrenta looked on, more a human symbol of the call for greater market diversity than anything else.
Earlier in the week Blekko made the decision that it would block content farms like Demand Media’s eHow and AnswerBag and is now announcing another milestone, over 30 million search queries in January and over 110K slashtags (curated topics) created since its launch in November.
This breaks down to about 10-15 search queries a second and over 1 million searches a day, which is at levels over its original traffic spike at launch. In contrast, Google was serving over 88 billion searches a month at last count (the 2010 Comscore numbers have yet to come out as far as I can see).
Even though the concept of slashtags is hard to get used to, here’s why I think Blekko has a fighting chance:
The company, helmed by Skrenta and Greg Lindahl is funded to the nines with $24.4 million from investors like Marc Andreessen, Ron Conway, Jeff Clavier and wildcard Ashton Kutcher. Skrenta told me himself that Blekko isn’t going away any time soon, especially if they keep adding streamlined utilities like the ability to search by your own customized slashtags, date, by site type, both date and site type and most recently the ability to search by Facebook “Likes.” Unveiling a mobile version three months in is also a savvy move.
Blekko keeps getting referenced in articles like this one simply because it keeps reinforcing its place at the search table terms of innovation and press stunts, like its Spam Clock, which is a running meter of all the spam created in the US (1 million pages every hour) or the bold move to ban specific sites when Google only broadly referenced spam filtering algorithms in the wake of critical articles like “Why We Desperately Need A Better Google.”
Once you get past the intimidation of creating a funny sounding slashtag, the site becomes extremely useful on a micro-personal level. Individuals will use it in a different ways, depending on what frustrates you about search. But I have a feeling Blekko doesn’t care if you use it now, it’s got a bunch more tricks in the works to keep you coming back.
Blekko is a search company founded by Rich Skrenta and his core team from previous company Topix and Netscape’s Open Directory. Blekko was founded halfway through 2007 and has already earned itself an angel round from Baseline Ventures and two ex-Googlers.