Whatever Happened To Cuil?
A couple of years ago (a long time in internet terms) a new startup was making waves. A number of former Google employees launched their own search engine named “Cuil” which launched publicly on 28th July 2008. According to CrunchBase the last reported figure for the number of employees was 30.
Cuil caused quite a stir for a while, particularly as it claimed to have more indexed pages than any other search provider, and then all went quiet. Mind you, not everyone was impressed, John C. Dvorak, on PCMag.com, had this to say “While all the people involved seem competent and have great resumes, the site itself out-and-out stinks.” – Ok John, lets not beat about the bush here, tell us what you really think.
So, except for a few nay-sayers, the future looked rosy for Cuil. However, fast forward to 2010 and visit the domain now and nothing is returned – so what happened to Cuil?
According to New Scientist magazine Cuil closed in September 2010 at around the same time Google Instant was launched. A check on the domain name states the domain entry was last updated on 17th September 2010 and it expires on 30th December 2015. SearchEngineWatch.com reported “…Cuil appears to be history.” whilst TechCrunch reported “…search engine Cuil was unceremoniously shut down on Thursday, and there were reports that employees were told to go home and forget about getting paid.”. PCMag.com reported “Stick a fork in it. The oft-maligned Web search service started up by some ex-Googlers is currently offline, and reports indicate that Cuil might be gone for good.” – no comment from Dvorak this time though.
Over the last year Cuil failed to pull more unique visitors than say, your average blog, so why did Cuil fail to take on the big boys? Perhaps it’s not that straightforward.
Let’s face it, Google Search, is pretty ingrained in most of our minds for search but even that is maybe not the reason. I expect the real reason is that the world has moved on – we are starting to use other tools for finding information now, such as Facebook, Digg and Twitter, and mobile devices are leading the way as our information power houses – it’s a more social, more organic, way of finding information.
Whilst there will always be a place for the search engines we know today they are starting to feel somewhat like a throw back to the “old days” of the internet particularly as web users are becoming more savvy in finding the information they need whilst getting fed up of all the advertising. Maybe Cuil didn’t fail, maybe it was just late to the party.