As I dusted off the last of the Catskill mountains camping trip I was greeted with a three-part video series from “the Professor” claiming that Facebook, TechMeme, and Mahalo were going to replace Google in four years. Everyone has jumped on board this one–some agree, many disagree.
Flattering? Of course, but truth be told replacing Google is not really our goal here at Mahalo. Google is great at what they do, and we’re 90 days into our public beta and I think we’re doing a “very good” job at what we do. What we do, for the record, is the top 1/3rd of search terms. The ones that people do over and over again, and that putting a human brain on to COMPLIMENT a machine and social process, will help. So, something like iPhone or unlocked iPhone we will do… “iPhone meetups in Boise” we will leave for Google.
We think we can participate in the search landscape over the next five to ten years, but we don’t have to replace–or displace–anyone to do that “at scale.” There’s plenty of search–and find–traffic to go around. Google didn’t “replace” Yahoo, and Mahalo certainly won’t replace Google.
In fact, we need Google for when we don’t have a result. If a search term is done so infrequently that you can’t recoup the investment in human capital to do it, well, then you should use a machine (which is very low cost).
Now that I’ve given a HUGE disclaimer that we’re not trying to be a “Google killer” (as if), it is very important to realize that there is ALWAYS a better solution to the current one out there. That just stands to reason and it is part of the human spirit to believe that ANYTHING can be done at least a LITTLE bit better right?
Typically these new solutions seem crazy when they are introduced by small groups of people with very big plans. Google started with zero marketshare, and so did Yahoo for that matter. Additionally, the market is expanding in a major way. There might be 10M visitors out there for your services that are not even currently online! Or, there might be 10M users ready to double their time online, so you’re not actually taking anything away from the incumbents by “getting” them.
OK, so, putting all the “killer” stuff aside since it’s the very moot “if” and what I’m focus on is the very real “how.”
Robert clearly understands that the best filter in the world for information is people you trust. That is what Mahalo, TechMeme, and Facebook are all about. Information related to the question “should I buy an iPhone” can be found in many different places and forms online, but the best place to look is with someone you trust. For me, that means I talk (or I should say listen) to Peter Rojas, Ryan Block, CK Sample, and Walt Mossberg. That’s my network for that information.
Of course, there are many times when I might now know someone who has the information I want. Like, what hotels should I consider in Paris or what is the best way to learn to speak French? That’s what Mahalo is setting up to do. Of course we are not going to scale to the end of the long tail–but we don’t have to! That’s the beauty of the business model: if we can help people with the top 25,000 search terms that’s a HUGE business.
If you want to consider us a “plug in” for machine search that’s fine by me. Consider us the fat tail search index/service/engine, and consider Google/Yahoo/Ask/MSN the long tail search engine
The important truth is that head-to-head a Mahalo search result will beat a machine search results HANDS DOWN every time. This makes sense since our humans start with machines and social search engines when they craft our results. If we take out 10% of the spam and introduce you to 10% better sites in a format that is 10% better organized (and we’re easily doing that TODAY) then we’ve done something AMAZING for people. We’ve made search 30% better! When’s the last time search got 30% better? Maybe not since Google came along.
Now, you’re going to have haters and I’ve got my share of them. I’ve pissed off the SEOs and the people who make their living off the SEO business existing but frankly there is nothing I can do about that. SEOs are like travel agents, telegrams, or other antiquated services. They are in their final inning and they are going to leave the building kicking and screaming. A lot of that screaming will be directed and the people who are showing them the way out. If I’m the bouncer throwing them out of the club and I have to take a couple of shots from them while kicking them into the dark, dirty alley they created…. well… I consider it an honor.
Let’s be real, SEOs have done nothing good in this world. They’ve only polluted the Internet with second rate sites designed to take advantage of people looking for the good ones.