Samsung, Intel Invest In “Anticipatory Search” Startup Expect Labs

Expect Labs Expect Labs, which is a small startup in the San Francisco Bay Area, has a very impressive list of investors. Today the company announced a new funding round, though the figures weren't disclosed. Investors are the venture or investment arms of Intel, Samsung and Telefonica. Telefonica is the world's fourth largest telco and owns mobile operator O2 in the UK. Previous investors included Google, Greylock, Bessemer, IDG Ventures, KPG Ventures, Quest Venture Partners. The company has one product called MindMeld. It's sort of a (video) chat app but really more of a technology demonstration.  [...]

ChaCha Defeats Google, Bing And Siri In “Answers Quality” Study

chacha-logo A study published today by Indiana-based Butler University compared the performance of a range of search engines and Q&A sites on mobile devices. It found that "ChaCha delivered the highest quality responses consistently across the largest group of categories and question types." The study was sponsored by ChaCha. However, ChaCha CEO Scott Jones told me via email that the company had no involvement with the study methodology, nor did it seek to influence the outcome in any way. Given that this is sponsored research, many people will undoubtedly be skeptical of the results, so I've emb [...]

With $14 Million More Q&A Site ChaCha Soldiers On

chacha-logo Q&A is a great idea that really hasn't worked. Although Yahoo Answers and a few others are still around -- and Ask returned to Q&A as a way to differentiate from Google and general search -- the segment is littered with dead bodies, including Facebook's Q&A offering. The outlook for Quora in its current form isn't particularly good, either. While human-powered Q&A should deliver better information in many instances than search, Q&A has largely failed to live up to that promise. Panda-related updates have also killed much of the traffic coming to these sites through SEO. [...]

“Anti-Search Engine” FindTheBest Adds Buying Guides, Top 10 Slideshows

There are a number of ways to describe FindTheBest, the site launched last year by DoubleClick founder Kevin O’Connor. One is "decision engine" another might be "comparison engine," a third could be "anti-search engine." It might be called an "anti-search engine" because, like Blekko's Rich Skrenta, FindTheBest's O'Conner believes that search results have become cluttered and filled with spam. O'Conner wanted to provide structured, "apples-to-apples comparisons" of places, institutions and products with total transparency. The site aggregates and then provides structured comparison dat [...] Acquired For $127 Million

The popular questions and answers site, has announced they have been acquired by AFCV Holdings, LLC. for $127 million. AFCV Holdings is paying $10.50 per share for the outstanding shares. "This is a great outcome for our shareholders," said Bob Rosenschein, Founder, Chairman and CEO. "After an exciting six years as a public company, we are very pleased to achieve considerable value for our investors. The acquisition price of $10.50 per share represents a significant cash premium of approximately 33% over our 90-day volume-weighted average closing stock price." Mr. Rosenschei [...]

ChaCha Answers Its Billionth Question, Hits Other Milestones

ChaCha has announced that its Q&A engine has reached several milestones -- the most notable perhaps being that the Q&A engine answered its billionth question. The question, which I believe can be seen here, was asked on Saturday by a 14-year-old Minnesota boy, and answered by Kenny and Spencer, two ChaCha guides: Q: How do you say friend in Elvish according to the Lord of the Rings? A: Mellon is the Elvish word for 'friend' in 'Lord of the Rings. ChaCha! Ironically, the guide cites this question/answer on WikiAnswers -- a ChaCha competitor -- as the source of his reply. ChaCha s [...]

ChaCha, The Tortoise Of Social Search, Keeps Plugging Away

ChaCha, which was one of the early Q&A or social search sites, is something of a survivor. It started out in late 2006 audaciously challenging Google with chat-based human-powered search and then reinvented itself in 2008 as a mobile site, with voice and SMS search. Repeatedly dismissed and even ridiculed it has defied critics and grown to 10 million monthly uniques, double its audience in 2009. It also developed one of the broadest and most effective marketing platforms (SMS-based) to reach youth and young adults. ChaCha last year integrated with Facebook and started a social network o [...]

Hunch: Traffic Down, Registrations Way Up & We’re Smarter

Even though its traffic is down, Hunch says new user registrations have risen dramatically recently. And as more users register, Hunch says its recommendation engine keeps getting smarter. Barely more than two months ago, Hunch began requiring visitors to register/login to use the site. In doing so, all Hunch visitors were required to answer the site's "Teach Hunch About You" (THAY) questions -- the information that Hunch relies on to make more accurate recommendations. To date, Hunch says its users have answered more than 50 million THAY questions. At the time of that June announcement, Hu [...]

Swingly: New Search Engine Reveals Just The Facts

The days of search engines merely being a middle man are over. Search isn't about sending users to the right web page, it's about getting them the information they want as soon as possible -- sometimes it's a web page, but it might also be a sports score, movie showtimes, election information, or some other piece of information. The latter -- factual pieces of information -- is where Swingly comes in. The site, which has been tested by a couple hundred beta users so far, is now going into its public beta phase and invites are being shared more liberally. (In fact, we have some to gi [...]

Hunch Tweaks Home Page, Focuses On Recommendations

Hunch has announced what it calls a "streamlined and simplified" home page, but the changes really reflect a slight change in focus, too. When the site launched last year, we referred to Hunch as a "personal decision maker;" Hunch itself used the term "decision engine." The new home page, though, presents a change of emphasis; logged-in users are immediately presented with a group of recommendations. The previous home page was more of an activity stream that seemed geared toward funneling users into existing decision topics. The difference between decision-making and recommending [...]

The One Thing That Could Doom Facebook Questions

Launched last week, Facebook Questions has a great opportunity to become the most popular question-and-answer destination on the web. With a built-in audience of 500 million users worldwide, Facebook could surpass Yahoo Answers and its 200+ million users in relatively quick order. But for all of its interesting features (see my article, Up Close With Facebook Questions, for details), there's a spanner in the works that could doom Facebook Questions to failure. In a word: search. Simply put, Facebook Questions doesn't have a traditional keyword-based search tool that people can use [...]

DoubleClick Founder Launches Structured “Decision Engine”

At first blush it wasn't impressive to me. I assumed from a quick look that FindTheBest was just a collection of links and "best of" lists. It thus seemed strange that DoubleClick founder Kevin O'Connor would come out of quasi-retirement to launch a basic directory site. But as we got into it a bit more it was clear there was a larger and more interesting project going on. FindTheBest is a kind of comparison engine for structured data of all sorts. It's not an alternative to search per se. In fact it will rely heavily on search and SEO for user discovery. The idea is to provide consumer [...]

Facebook: No Plans To Give Search Engines Access To Facebook Questions

That's one of the big questions people are asking after yesterday's launch of Facebook Questions. While many have assumed the answer would be "yes," a Facebook spokesperson tells us that assumption is wrong. Currently, search engines cannot access questions and answers through our Questions product. That may be something we consider for the future but have no current plans to allow it. Facebook is blocking search engines by only showing Questions to logged-in users. Sure enough, a search on Google shows only a handful of results, none of which are actuall [...]

Up Close With Facebook Questions

Facebook Questions is the latest in a long line of question-and-answer services online but, as Danny Sullivan mentioned in his news article earlier, it's the only one with a community of 500 million users behind it. For comparison's sake, Yahoo Answers, the recognized leader in the Q&A space, announced in late 2009 that it had reached 200 million users worldwide. It remains to be seen what percentage of Facebook members will use Questions, but it's obvious that the service could surpass Yahoo Answers in due time. Facebook Questions will likely succeed by default to some degree thanks to hav [...]

Facebook Questions Opens To Limited Public Release

Long expected, Facebook's new Facebook Questions service is now being offered. It allows Facebook users to specifically ask question to and get answers from others in Facebook's now 500 million strong community. The service just went live at 1pm Pacific Time today, and we're working on a detailed look at all the features (this is now live, see Up Close With Facebook Questions). That will be posted shortly and linked to from this article. Facebook has a short blog post about the service now, highlighting: All questions are made public to anyone, not just to your friends Questions [...]

Replyz: See The Questions People Are Asking On Twitter

People ask friends and followers lots of questions on Twitter. Now a new service called Replyz is making it easy to find all the questions being asked, answers being given and provides a platform allowing anyone to participate in question-answering on Twitter in an organized manner. It offers much to searchers and search marketers, alike. Replyz is in a semi-private beta. Anyone can try it if they enter via a "conversation link," which I'll explain at the end of this article. The service mines Twitter for tweets that seem question-related, such as those containing terms like: does anyon [...]

The “Anyone Know” Search: How Twitter Is Good For More Than Brand Monitoring

Many marketers understand Twitter search is a powerful way to monitor brand mentions and reach out to customers. But I think few realize what a powerful platform it provides to reach out on non-branded generic mentions. To better illustrate this, let me introduce the "Anyone Know" Twitter search. Actually, I'll explain "Anyone Know" toward the end of this article. To provide the right context for it, I first need to cover the brand monitoring that's already so well known. Brand Monitoring On Twitter Comcast is the classic brand monitoring story, covered over and over again. Comcast wa [...]

Bizmore: Like Yahoo Answers For Small Business

There's no shortage of web sites online offering help for small business owners. Heck, Search Engine Land's Small Is Beautiful column does it, I do it both here and on my Small Business Search Marketing blog, and there are countless other blogs and sites with advice for the SMB market. But what if a small business owner wants to go straight to the source and get advice from his/her peers about all aspects of business, not just marketing? Bizmore is a new "help engine" that aims to do just that. A beta version of the site launched earlier this month. If you like analogies, think of B [...]

“Help Engine” Aardvark Makes Twitter An Onramp For Q&A

Danny has described Aardvark as a "help engine" and I've called it an "answer community." Whatever term you want to use to characterize the service it's very interesting and has enormous potential as a kind of search engine alternative or complement for recommendations, opinions or complex questions. There are other services that are similar though not identical (see, ChaCha, kgb, Yahoo Answers, Hunch). The closest is probably Mosio, which seems to be morphing from a consumer-facing service into a kind of B2B platform. For those not already familiar with Aardvark (or Vark), it matches peop [...]

The Rise Of Help Engines: Twitter & Aardvark

Back in 2000, there was a little-remembered but amazing survey that I love to cite showing how search engines had, in only a few years, topped the list of information resources consulted. They'd even pushed past family and friends. Now the times are changing, as family and friends have themselves become easily searchable resources. The survey, "The Consumer Daily Question Study," (and see here) tracked 74 people over four days in Boston, Des Moines and San Diego. They were given tape recorders and asked to record questions that occurred to them. Over 1,200 [...]

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