Search startup from ex-Googlers promises 'new approach'

Cuill (pronounced 'cool') lands US$25 million in funding

A search company founded by ex-Google and IBM employees landed US$25 million in new venture funding this week, but remains in stealth mode with no indication of when its technology will be publicly available.

The search start-up, Cuill (pronounced "cool"), has reportedly told investors that it can crawl the Web at about one-tenth the cost of Google. Cuill's Web site boasts of a "new approach to search" involving a Web crawler known as "Twiceler." Details beyond that are scarce and Cuill didn't immediately respond to an interview request from Network World Wednesday.

"Cuill has assembled a premier team of search experts from Google, IBM, eBay, AltaVista, Xerox PARC, the Internet Archive and Stanford University," Cuill states in a press release. "The team is leveraging their own expertise in search architecture, relevance methods and data analysis to provide users with a better search experience."

Cuill secured US$25 million this week in a funding round led by Madrone Capital Partners, bringing the company's total venture investments to US$33 million.

The Cuill team members do have some interesting experience. President and founder Anna Patterson has a PhD in computer science and after joining Google in 2004 she managed Google's ad-matching technology and was in charge of Google Base, a system where users submit content so it can be made searchable on Google.

Cuill co-founder Russell Power worked on Web ranking and automatic spam detection at Google. Both Patterson and Power worked on TeraGoogle, which appears to be a social network.

Cuill CEO and co-founder Tom Costello in 1999 created Xift, a search engine with automatic clustering and page analysis, and later joined IBM where he developed the prototype of WebFountain, an Internet analytics engine that studies unstructured data on the Web. Costello has a PhD in computer science from Stanford University.

Cuill's vice president of products, Louis Monier, designed search engine technology for Google and eBay, while vice president of communications Vince Sollitto was previously a spokesman for California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Though it's not clear when Cuill will launch a search tool, Patterson says in a press release "we look forward to sharing Cuill with everyone on the Web."

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Jon Brodkin

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