Goodbye Cuil World

It’s apparently official: the Google killer, search engine Cuil, is dead, according to a report by TechCrunch this evening.  If you’re wondering why I linked to the Wikipedia entry about Cuil instead of Cuil itself… well, then you obviously don’t read.  It’s dead.  Trying to open cuil.com is futile, and the fact that a Google search for Cuil still has as its #2 result the phrase “Cuil – The World’s Biggest Search Engine,” just underscores the weirdness that is the tech world.

For those of you who don’t know the story, Cuil was supposed to be the Search Engine To End All Search Engines.  They were going to Take Down Google, and they were going to Establish A New Level Of Search Engine Awesomeness.

They Didn’t.

Cuil (paradoxically pronounced “cool”) was plagued from the beginning by insufficient servers and overly sufficient hype.  With some $33 million in funding, Cuil somehow made headlines in BusinessWeek, proclaimed one of 2008’s top startups.  Apparently, this was because they had raised $33 million.  So entrepreneurs, you want to make it as an award-winning startup?  Create a pile of crap and waste historic amounts of investors’ money on it.

Well, Cuil was far from cool.  It was, in fact, crap.  Massive amounts of indexed pages (so they claimed), but it was slow, buggy, and just all-around awful.  I fell for the hype and tried it pretty much right after launch.  I was back using Google faster than you can say “What the hell does that have to do with my search?”

Which leads me to a point I’ve made multiple times: WHY dear GOD do these startups with a few million bucks INSIST on attacking Google?  Rule 1 of entrepreneurship: have SOME SORT OF PAIN POINT (pardon the shouting) that you’re trying to assuage.  Search engines have, quite frankly, no pain points that can be fixed with other search engines.

When was the last time you heard someone say “Man, that Google is great.  If only it indexed more pages.”

Never?  Hmm, what a coincidence.  I’ve never heard it too.

So anyone who’s out there thinking of making a new search engine, just stop.  Microsoft has done well with Bing, growing in market share, working with Yahoo!, and making a dent in Google’s dominance; but Microsoft also poured the monetary equivalent of about ten Cuils into Bing’s marketing budget alone.

Nobody cares how many pages your search engine indexes.

Nobody cares if you load your results in half the time Google does.

Nobody cares if your results are seventeen percent more relevant than Google’s.

Make something people are clamoring for.  Stop making search engines.  For God’s sake, stop making search engines.

Let Cuil be your warning.