August 05, 2007

Accoona.com going public...Why ?

Mashable mentioned that accoona is going public. It says...
Most of Accoona’s revenue comes from its e-commerce business, which operates in North America. It’s online lead generation and search engine services are used in the US, Europe and China. Its search technology was hailed as a viable competitor to other major search engines such as Google, when it launched its Internet service a few years ago. Accoona’s attempt at differentiation is that of its semantic search, incorporating the meaning of words into your queries, allow you to further filter your search results based on your highlighted keywords, and will revise information in real time, offering relevant data such as fax and phone numbers, addresses, etc. for particular information you look up.

My question is... why ? The site itself looks unpleasant to visit, slow to search and has at least a few implementation bugs at least. On top of that I found the advertisements annoying to look at and the search filtering idea, though great, wasn't really implemented in an intuitive way.
Now, all that doesn't really matter if the "AI" part of search was any good. I tried to search for two simple things and compared it with google.

  • How high is mount everest ?

  • Which is the second highest mountain ?


For both of these results, google was spot on... and Accoona's AI based search required Real Intelligence on my part to find the right answer. The other problem is that SuperTarget's 6 filter catagories are insufficient to cover various topics a user could be searching on.

But thats just me talking about it after using the site for 2 minutes.

Interestingly Accoona also runs this website ExchangePlace.net which might be where it really makes money. But its not clear if this website uses any of the AI infrastructure Accoona is investing on.

Update: John Battlelle has an update on Accoona.com. According to him this company does more than what meets the eye. But its still not clear why they have all the smoke and mirrors. Also checkout paidContent and the full S-1 filed with SEC is here.
"We are an Internet company engaged in three primary business lines — online-based lead generation, online search in the United States, Europe and China, and e-commerce consumer electronics retailing. Our services assist our users in finding the products, services and information they want, obtaining competitive pricing and making informed buying decisions. We use our expertise in technology, marketing and management to support and create efficiencies across our business lines, which are organized primarily into the following sectors:
• Online-based lead generation — We developed and operate ExchangePlaceTM, which we believe is one of the first U.S. online-based marketplaces that enables consumers to obtain offers from as many as four providers of services in which they are interested and allows providers to bid for the opportunity to contact qualified consumers, or leads, (i.e., those meeting the providers’ criteria), across a range of vertical markets. We believe that these leads are more valuable to providers because of the greater likelihood they will result in sales, thereby resulting in increased returns on investment, or ROI, for those providers.
• Search — We have developed and operate an artificial intelligence driven search engine in the United States, China and Europe. Our business plan contemplates the development of techniques to use our existing technologies to enable our users to better access certain specialized search markets. In addition, we operate a shopping comparison search engine, BuyersEdge.com, that allows shoppers to search for and compare products and prices available at numerous online merchants.
• E-commerce — We operate six Internet retail websites offering primarily a wide selection of consumer electronics and home appliances, backed by customer service and support. According to a report in TWICE, in 2006, the combined revenues of our e-commerce sites made us one of the top 10 consumer-direct electronics retailers in North America by online revenue and one of the top 55 consumer electronics retailers overall."

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