Catching Up With Exponential Labs, The Startup Behind Long-Tail Search Site ‘MillionShort’

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Some people in the tech industry like to say that web search is a problem that has long been solved. But earlier this year, a small startup out of Toronto called Exponential Labs attracted some big attention with “MillionShort,” a clever hack called that let you bypass the top million (or 1000, or 10,000) Google search results to help surface long-tail content that has not yet risen to the top within traditional search engine algorithms.

MillionShort first appeared in May as a “Show HN” demo on Y Combinator’s news aggregator and discussion site Hacker News, where it quickly amassed hundreds of comments within the first day it was posted. At that time, we explained the site’s appeal like this:

“Say you’re looking for a new recipe for a dish you’ve made lots of times before. The top 20 search results are going to be from very popular food sites, of recipes you’ve probably already seen What if you want something fresh?

…It’s a lot like pruning a plant, or skimming the film off the top of a stew: MillionShort lets you remove the old or non-useful stuff from traditional web search to find new or interesting content.”

At first the team at Exponential Labs hadn’t intended for MillionShort to be its main focus, but in the months since May it has decided to pivot its full attention onto the search space — it has even developed its own search technology for a more standalone experience separate from Google. We caught up with Exponential Labs’ CEO Sanjay Arora at the TechCrunch Toronto meetup earlier this week to hear about the latest from the company. You can watch that in the video embedded above.