Redeye VC

Josh Kopelman

Managing Director of First Round Capital.

espite being coastally challenged (currently living in Philadelphia), Josh has been an active entrepreneur and investor in the Internet industry since its commercialization. In 1992, while he was a student at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Josh co-founded Infonautics Corporation – an Internet information company. In 1996, Infonautics went public on the NASDAQ stock exchange.

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Everything old is new again...

I'm at the WSJ D Conference this week, and just saw Jason Calacanis launch Mahalo.com.   Mahalo is intended to be a "human powered" search engine.  Apparently, the top 20,000 queries to Google represent almost a third of all their traffic -- and with the rise in SEO and search-engine spam, many of the top results are of little value to their users.  Mahalo believes that humans can help make search results better and has hired 40 human editors to hand-craft the results pages for the top queries.  They've done 4,000 pages to date and hope to have 10,000 pages by year-end.  A big, bold bet.

It also sounds similar to the old McKinely Magellan Internet Guide of 1995 (see Internet Archive's copy of the site here).   From an old Magellan press release:

Magellan is the product of a marriage between McKinley's proprietary search technology and its unique editorial process. Sites in the Magellan guide are reviewed and rated by a highly informed editorial staff, with expertise in topical areas. The resulting site evaluations not only provide users with in-depth information, but also a human voice.

Mahalo_2

Hopefully Jason's bet will turn out better than Magellan's did.

More on Mahalo available on Techcrunch and Webware.

Comments

Tristan Louis

Actually, you can go even further than that. My first official job on the internet was working for Michael Wolff on YPN (Your Personal Network) which was exactly the same thing, in 1994. The experiment went on after I left but crashed a couple of years later. Michael Wolff wrote a book called "Burn Rate" about his experience. Thought it might be of interest :)

Andrew

I believe Mahalo's goal is to be purchased by one of the big three. Google uses dmoz, which corrupt, yahoo's directory is crap because they allow paid placement and for various reasons MSN's directories are a complete mess. Certainly a major player can use a solid directory to better natural results.

Doug Klein

Most of what we talk about on the web today was discussed in the 60's and 70's. Yes, we've heard this before.

The change is both in the technology that enables the capabilities and the ability of society to absorb the changes. Search is a great example of a very broken system over the long term. I'm sorry, but I do not think Google/Yahoo/whatever will ever succeed as a restaurant recommender. Search, as defined in today's world, is great, but not adequate. I want to hear from a trusted source. Today, at the Where 2.0 conference, a speaker did a live demo using some Google tools. In looking up "a place to buy iPods" the 3rd recommendation in the list was a restaurant .. duh, I don't think this qualifies for the search expectations of the end user :)

Mahalo might be off, but it will be because of timing or execution, not core idea. Watch for lots of changes in this space very soon.

vaspers the grate aka steven e. streight

Alpha testers have a chance to help "train" Mahalo like you can with the Swicki community powered, user-ranked (promote, demote ie bury, or delete) customized search engines.

By getting in early, you can recommend your site, blog, etc. plus other good URLs.

Mahalo is fun to use and fairly easy to figure out, even late at night like I'm doing.

I totally agree with Jason's acceptable vs. unacceptable sites. No scrape sites. No advertorial sites. No feed aggregator sites, etc.

We have identical values, it seems.

http://twitter.com/vaspers

LivePaola

Josh: sorry about the giant picture. It seems to be a byproduct of the interaction between TypePad and Wordpress. Will you kindly delete my previous comment? I did not intend to spam your blog with a huge photo. Thank you. Paola

johnrob

So if they invest all this money to build an index, how are they going to stop people from crawling the site and stealing it? 10,000 categories is nothing for a web crawler.

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If I go on listing my first appearance on the internet, it would take me a good 30 pages to explain my experience. What I mean is, during the days of learning you not necessarily learn all the times. Some things are better off not mentioned because those are happening regularly with the passage of time and increased work burden.

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