Why the Cuil Search Engine Was a Failure

Why the Cuil Search Engine Was a Failure


The Story of Cuil:

I think it’s safe to say, launching a website is a challenge. In this post, I’m going to highlight one of the biggest failures I can remember in website history. It would be easy to highlight HealthCare.gov or the CTA’s Ventra problems, but I think it would be even more interesting to highlight a classic. That is the search engine, Cuil.  One of the most public failures I can remember to date is Cuil.com, a search-engine startup that was slated to become a ‘Google killer’, that when it first went live was harshly reviewed by droves of critics.

Even though it featured a privacy policy which did not store user activity, had indexed approximately 127 billion pages, integrated Facebook searching, and had a fancy name that meant knowledge in Irish, it still failed to impress.   Cuil was created in 2008 by a then ex-Google employee, Anna Patterson, who received $33 million in venture capital to start the project. The odd puzzle-like search result page confused users when it delivered incorrect search results and faced slow response times. After several months of losing traffic, it also failed to be acquired, and in 2010, was proclaimed dead.

On September 17th of 2010, employees were told about the project’s demise, and hours later the servers were taken offline. Employees were laid off without pay. Anna eventually returned to Google, and is now Vice President of Engineering.


Surviving the Challenging Digital Age:

It wasn’t just Cuil. Others recently made big news with difficult times:


1) FriendsterWhy Friendster Died: Social Media Isn’t a Game

2) MySpace:  MySpace Co-Founder Blames Rupert Murdoch For Failure Of Website

3) GrouponThe Rise and Fall of Tech’s Enfant Terrible

4) NetflixNetflix Abandons Plans To Divide Into 2 Divisions

5) Living Social:  Living Social’s Amazon Deal Was A Huge Failure

6) YahooYahoo Mail Goes Down

7) BlackberryWe’re Not Dead Yet

8) Hewlett-PackardHow HP Lost its Way


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