• NetBase Offers Powerful Semantic Indexing Platform That Reads The Web

    Regular search engines such as Google and Yahoo use statistics to make sense of the Web. They count links, keywords, and other items on a page to determine its rank in search results. Semantic search engines try to actually understand the meaning of the words found on the Web and other documents to bring back the most relevant results to a query. Microsoft bought Powerset for $100 million… Read More

  • Powerset, The Neutered Version

    Microsoft promises that this is just the beginning of the integration with the recently acquired Powerset, but incorporating better Wikipedia clips into Live Search is a far cry from the original promise of the next generation search startup: true natural language search. Instead we have more Live Search results with dedicated answers (not sure why Powerset was needed for this), and better… Read More

  • Next Year's Headline: Microsoft fails to do anything significant with Powerset

    There is one glaring detail that everyone who reported on the Microsoft-Powerset acquisition has failed to mention: Powerset is a Unix based company. All of its core components – its applications, its packaging system, and its continuous integration system – were designed and written to run on a Unix platform. As a large software company, Microsoft is a big supporter of its own… Read More

  • Interview With Barney Pell and Ramez Naam About Microsoft’s Powerset Acquisition: Integration By End Of Year

    I spoke with Powerset cofounder/CEO Barney Pell and Microsoft’s Live Search General Program Manager Ramez Naam shortly after Microsoft’s announcement of their acquisition of Powerset earlier today. Microsoft intends to use Powerset’s natural language search technology as a major differentiating factor v. no. 1 search player Google (see our recent coverage of Live Search… Read More

  • Microsoft Bets On Natural Language Search To Battle Google

    Techcrunch confirms that Microsoft has announced that they have acquired natural language search engine Powerset for a sum rumored to be around $100M. The acquisition is another key step in Microsofts efforts to gain market share in the online search market – currently dominated by Google and Yahoo. The search team at Microsoft said today in a blog post that they were interested in… Read More

  • Ok, Now It's Done. Microsoft To Acquire Powerset

    Microsoft will announce today that they have acquired San Francisco based semantic search engine Powerset. The acquisition price is not being disclosed, but our understanding from sources close to the deal is that the previously rumored $100 million is “roughly accurate.” In May we reported that Powerset was in acquisition discussions with Microsoft and was hoping to bring… Read More

  • Microsoft To Buy Powerset? Not Just Yet.

    VentureBeat is reporting that Microsoft has agreed to buy semantic search engine Powerset for somewhere around $100 million, which is the price we previously reported was being offered to the company. Our sources have been saying this deal is highly likely since May, but hasn’t actually been signed yet and could still be disrupted by the ongoing Microsoft-Yahoo negotiations. Dave Wehner… Read More

  • Powerset Unveils iPhone-Optimized Wikipedia Search

    Powerset, the natural language search engine that partially launched in May, has released a mobile version of their site that allows users to quickly search Wikipedia from their iPhone. Since the release of the iPhone a number of sites including iPodia and Wapedia have released optimized versions of Wikipedia (though none actually made by the online encyclopedia). These sites reformat… Read More

  • Stealth Search Engine Blekko Gets Money From Marc Andreessen, SoftTech

    2008 is the year of the search engine startup. Hot on the heels of Powerset’s partial launch earlier this week, stealth search engine Blekko (no logo, no website, just this and, apparently, some technology) raised a second round of financing. The company raised $3 million in equity at a $23 million post-money valuation. All previous investors participated, and new investors Marc… Read More

  • Powerset Launches Showcase For User Search Experience

    Today marks another milestone for San Francisco based contextual search engine Powerset. They’ve launched a showcase for their user search experience – effectively the search engine minus the web crawl. For now, Powerset queries only Wikipedia and augments results with data from Freebase. The product launch comes just a day after reports that the company is being shopped to… Read More

  • Powerset's Dilemma: Go For It, Or Sell

    San Francisco based search startup Powerset will be launching shortly. For now, Powerset will query only Wikipedia and Freebase. But as I said when the product was demo’d to me a few weeks ago, it is compelling nonetheless: “When I tested the service I had something very similar to the “Aha!” feeling that ran through me the first time I ever used Google. In short, it is… Read More

  • Blodget Says Facebook Is Only Worth $9 Billion, Hypothetically Speaking

    Putting a value on private companies is hard enough for insiders and venture capitalists who have full access to the company’s financial statements. When outsiders try to do it, even well-informed ones, it is nothing more than a guessing game. But it is nonetheless perhaps one of Silicon Valley’s favorite parlor activities. Today, Henry Blodget & Co. at Silicon Alley Insider… Read More

  • Powerset Will Launch In Coming Weeks

    San Francisco based Powerset will be publicly launching a long-awaited beta version of the service in the coming weeks, the company told me yesterday. They are working on a new kind of search engine that will understand natural language searches and compete with keyword matching engines that dominate search today. An early version of the search engine, which was demo’d to me yesterday… Read More

  • Microsoft Blews Brings Back Memories Of Rocket Pops At The Beach

    Ok, so that isn’t an actual picture of the new Microsoft Blews news aggregator that was announced by Microsoft Research today, but tell me that the screen shot (see below) doesn’t bring back memories of eating Rocket Pops on the beach as a child (or wherever you ate them). But back to Blews. It’s a news aggregator (see Techmeme and about 45 others, including this gem), but… Read More

  • Find Something That Is "X" And Has "Y" With Circos

    Keyword search gets you pretty far when looking for pure information, but doesn’t help much on more qualitative searches like trying to find the hippest restaurant in SOHO. Searches like the latter rely on the opinions of people, not webmasters, which is one of the reasons Circo’s has launched their new qualitative search engine. The engine currently lets users search for hotels… Read More

  • The Next Google Search Challenger: Blekko

    Rich Skrenta, who created the first computer virus (Elk Cloner), co-founded the Open Directory Project, and co-founded online news site Topix, may have bitten off the biggest challenge of his career – taking on Google. In search. Skrenta left Topix last June. He started his new company, Blekko, almost immediately, along with five others from the Topix core team. They raised $2 million… Read More

  • Google's Norvig Is Down On Natural Language Search

    Don’t expect to see natural-language search at Google anytime soon. Despite the buzz of startups like Powerset and, to a lesser degree, true knowledge, Google’s head of research Peter Norvig pooh-poohs the notion that people are clamoring to write full sentences in search boxes. In a Q&A with Technology Review, he says: We don’t think it’s a big advance to be able… Read More

  • Founders Fund Closes $220 Million Second Fund

    San Francisco based Founders Fund launched in 2005 with a $50 million venture fund. They’ve had two liquidity events since then, and a handful of other very high profile investments (Facebook, Powerset, Ooma, Quantcast, Slide, Geni, Causes, etc.). Today they will announce a second fund, Founders Fund II. It’s much larger – $220 million. And unlike the first fund, the money… Read More

  • Powerset Looking for a New CEO

    Natural-language search startup Powerset is going through some growing pains. Barney Pell is stepping down from the CEO spot. He will now become the CTO, and he and Powerset’s board will conduct a search for a new CEO. Powerset’s other founder and COO, Steve Newcomb, is not in the running for the top job. He has left the company. At the Web 2.0 conference, Pell gave an… Read More

  • Powerset Testing Search Results At Mechanical Turk

    A reader noticed that stealth search engine Powerset is using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk service to gauge user reactions to search results. See the screen shot (click for larger view) – users are shown a query and a number of results and are asked to evaluate the relevancy of each result from five choices. In this case, the query is “revealing bikinis.” Users are asked… Read More