Coming out of (private) and into public Beta today is a new hybrid travel and local search engine, Goby.com (GO-be), a new entrant into the foray of “deep web” search technology, led by a founding team with web and search experience from Endeca (CEO Mark Watkins), Lycos (Jim Fell) and Reprise Media (CTO Vince Russo), MIT (professor Michael Stonebraker, co-founder) as well as travel distribution experience with John Walsh (World Travel Holdings.) The start-up received its funding from Flybridge Capital and Kepha Partners.
Using a 3-box format for search queries, Goby’s intention is to help guide the user through task-centric discovery to answer queries relevant to “things to do nearby”, whether that location is a vacation destination or your local city area.
Throughout its (private) beta phase, Goby.com identified up to 250 categories of content surrounding popular themes and search queries that fall into these three categories of understood concepts. In addition to queries on things to do, outdoor recreation and activities, dining, entertainment, live music, museums, historic sites are top suggestions, as well as more travel specific concepts, such as hotels and lodging topics.
Currently using about 500 pre-qualified, authoritative data sources (or “deep web” databases) or known local sources such as Yelp.com, Goby contextualizes and organizes these results in a clean format, using Google Maps and images (also from Flickr) to enhance results.
Interestingly, Goby appears to cover a broad range of (and even some obscure) locations across the USA, as opposed to a beta launch with limited destinations. If you live in a large city like San Francisco, you can browse for things to do on a foggy day, or if are looking for a weekend getaway in a small coastal town for a food and wine festival, you might give Goby a try. Although some users may initially be disappointed to see a limited number of results to any query (very few test searches return more than 100 listings), it may not matter if the first ten to twenty are the most relevant and useful results. An iPhone app is currently in development.