I love search engines. I love comedy movies. So let’s have fun putting the two together. Which search engines are most like some famous movie fraternities? Yes, there is an Animal House of search!
Google: Lambda Lambda Lambda (Revenge Of The Nerds)
As I pondered how to match search engines to movie fraternities, this one was easy. How could Google not be like the nerds that joined Lambda Lambda Lambda in Revenge Of The Nerds. Google cofounders Larry Page and Sergey Brin literally shopped their technology around to all the other search engines back in the late 90s, only to get rejected. So they went out on their own, and the nerds won the show. "Those nerds are a thread to our way of life!"
That’s Larry & Sergey up top, by the way — with Bill Gates, Terry Semel and Jim Lanzone down below, in that order (don’t worry, Jim — you get your own back further below).
Yahoo: Lambda Epsilon Omega (Old School)
With Yahoo, the right match-up eventually came to me: Lambda Epsilon Omega from Old School. That’s the fraternity started-up by three friends who decide it would be cool to party again like they did in their college days. Yahoo was the rocking search fraternity of the past, until Google came along and stole the thunder. So why not go back to the good old days? Heck, one of Yahoo’s founders Jerry Yang is even back at the helm!
Pictured is Susan Decker, then Jerry Yang and search czar Jeffrey Weiner (who was recently interviewed here, by the way)
I struggled and struggled to find the right movie fraternity to match Microsoft. I even discovered that Wikipedia maintains a list of fictional movie fraternities and sororities and scanned that for ideas. In the end, I decided that Microsoft has been most like ROTC, the college-based military officer training program.
In both Animal House and Revenge Of The Nerds, you see those in ROTC somewhat interacting with the fraternities. It’s like they’re sort of a fraternity but not quite there. Microsoft, of course, has embarked on a journey to be the leading search destination on the web. But it remains new to the challenge, saddled with still trying to find its own identity (Microsoft MSN Windows Live Search) and so like ROTC, isn’t quite the same as the search engines (IE fraternities) that it’s going up against.
You got a better match-up for Microsoft? Let me know in the comments below!
Ask.com: Delta Tau Chi (Animal House)
The match-up for Ask.com was easy. Indeed, Ask.com CEO Jim Lanzone is a former fraternity member who inspired this entire post. Jim’s a fun guy who enjoys a good prank and treats Ask not just as a job but almost like a fraternity itself, where he looks out for his other members, the fraternity’s reputation and wants to attract new members.
Ask generally has the tiniest share of any of the major search engines, in terms of search traffic — yet it is substantial enough for Ask to still be counted among the majors. And when many have assumed over the years that Ask should be squeezed out by the fight between Google, Yahoo and Microsoft, you can almost picture Jim — like John Belushi in Animal House — rallying his Delta brothers and sisters that "nothing is over until we decide it is!"
Oh, that’s Jim in the main picture, with Apostolos Gerasoulis in the O and some dude that used to work for Ask when it was Ask Jeeves in the M.