Back in 2010, an alternative search engine called Blekko emerged. It came from Rich Skrenta, co-founder & former CEO of Topix and NewHoo (which went on to become The Open Directory Project or DMOZ). It aimed to crowd source search by using the public to refine its algorithms and make search results more relevant and less spammy.
IBM has acquired its technology and team for Watson.
The blekko technology and team have joined IBM Watson! http://t.co/EMDjwvSrSv
— Rich Skrenta (@skrenta) March 27, 2015
If you go to Blekko.com now, you’ll just see this:
IBM says the acquisition will provide Watson with more content to offer in its products and services. From the announcement:
Blekko brings advanced Web-crawling, categorization and intelligent filtering technology. Its technology crawls the Web continually and gathers information from the most highly relevant and most credible Web pages. It uses classification techniques to create thousands of topical categories, making that data more useful and insightful.
These capabilities complement the recent acquisition of AlchemyAPI as well existing technologies available on the Watson Developer Cloud. The combination of these technologies will further assist our clients in applying cognitive computing toward making more informed, evidence-based decisions.
A metaphor to understand how this works is to think about the information on the Internet and other sources as a vast underground oil field. Blekko’s technologies are like oil exploration and production teams that locate the high-quality oil, drill, and deliver it to the refinery. AlchemyAPI’s technologies, together with Watson’s existing capabilities, are like the refineries that refine the oil into a multitude of finished products, such as gasoline, heating oil or jet fuel. IBM and its partners then distribute insights to the points of impact, the way tanker trucks deliver fuel to gas stations or depots.
In its early days, Blekko showed signs of gaining some traction. Skrenta was appearing on search panels at conferences alongside Google’s Matt Cutts, and the company was making interesting partnerships and raising funding.
In fact, Cutts even encouraged people to check Blekko out at one point:
We’ve reached out to Skrenta for additional comment on the acquisition and the closure of the Blekko service, and will update accordingly.