Posts from Search


The first great investment we made at USV was Indeed in the summer of 2005. Brad had been looking for a search engine for jobs and I saw this post on John Battelle's blog in late 2004. I forwarded it to Brad and he reached out to Paul and Rony. It took two tries before we could convince them to take our money. They had bootstrapped the company, launched the service, and were well on their way. They didn't need our money. But eventually we convinced them to take it, along with the New York Times Company and our friends at Allen & Company.

Indeed has always been the quiet one. Nobody really talks about them. But as I have said a number of times on this blog, they are the most complete company in our portfolio. They have it all. Two world class entrepreneurs as founders. A solid management team all up and down the company. A product that is beloved and services more than 80mm people worldwide every month. An engineering team that has kept the service up with literally no down time that I can ever remember. A business model that, like Google's, is the best on the Internet. Revenues, profits, customer satisfaction, shareholder value. They built a fortress and I am just so happy to have had a front row seat watching them build it.

The quiet one is the one that can do a big M&A transaction over the summer without anyone finding out. The quiet one is the one that puts out the news on their blog and goes back to serving customers. The quiet one is the first great investment we made at USV and one that will always have a special place in my heart. Congrats to Paul, Rony, and the team. We will miss working with you.

#VC & Technology#Web/Tech

Copyright and The Internet

Google has announced they have made a change to their algorithms to include valid DMCA takedown requests as a negative signal in their search results. I believe this is a step in the right direction and I am pleased to see Google do this.

It's hard to argue that the Internet can regulate itself when content owners point to Google search results that show blatant copyright violators on the first page and fully licensed services buried four pages down. So Google is addressing that. That's a good thing.

But I think we can do more. In the world of spam and malware, there are third party services that provide whitelists and blacklists that are used by various services and platforms to help them keep their services clean. I would like to see this approach extended to copyright.

It would be best if a competitive marketplace developed for copyright whitelists and blacklists. The list providers would use signals like number of valid takedown notices and a host of other data points, ideally provided by the marketplace of services and platforms, to produce real time lists of what services are fully compliant (whitelist), what services are blatantly violating copyright (blacklist), and everyone else (greylist).

Being on the greylist would not hamper a new service from entering the market. All new services built by three engineers in a loft would start out on the greylists. But over time they could get onto the whitelists by properly respecting copyright in their service. Whitelisted content services would benefit in the same way that whitelisted services benefit in the word of email.

Google effectively runs their own whitelists and blacklists in their email business and in their search business. But if there were truly independent and competitive providers of whitelists and blacklists for copyright, the entire market could do this sort of thing. And ideally Google would participate by providing data to these third parties and using the third party lists in their algorithms.

When I think about solving thorny problems like copyright, I like to look at how the Internet has solved similar problems and think about how these approaches can be extended to solve new problems. Whitelists and blacklists have been very effective in areas like spam and malware and I think they would be a great approach to address the copyright issues as long as they are built and managed by independent competitive third parties.


This is a feature request. I'd love to see Google do this but I imagine this might also be possible via a third party service built on the gmail api.

I will often log into my gmail account on a conference room display in order to find a document that I want to load on the big screen. I do this a lot and I see many others do this frequently. Many entrepreneurs will do this when they come to see us. They will log into their gmail on the conference room display, they find the presentation they want to make, and then load that on the display.

The problem with this move, of course, is you briefly display your entire inbox to everyone in the room. That is suboptimal. But even so, I do this all the time. I've gotten pretty good at jumping into the search box quickly and running the search in order to get out of the inbox display.

So here's what I want. A simple app I can use that runs at something like I go there, log into gmail, and then do a search on my inbox without having to reveal my entire inbox first.

It is possible that this feature already exists. If so, please tell me how to do this. I can't figure it out and I have tried. If this feature doesn't exist, it should.


Duck Duck Go Passed 1mm Searches Per Day

I'm a bit late with this news about our portfolio company Duck Duck Go but I am super excited about it so I'm posting it anyway. I'll let a tweet tell the story:



One million searches per day is not chump change. AOL does somewhere around four or five times that every day. And if you look at this public chart of Duck Duck Go's growth, you'll see that they may pass AOL sometime this year.

Ddg traffic

Why is DDG growing so fast? Well first and foremost, their product is getting better and better. I have changed all my browsers to default to DDG and I am watching the service improve before my eyes. And the redesign that launched around year end is excellent. So if you haven't tried DDG recently, you should give it a try.

But it may also be that other search engines are doing things that some users don't approve of and those users are shopping around for a new search engine. If you are in that camp, join me at DDG and see what clean, private, impartial and fast search is like.

#VC & Technology#Web/Tech

Changing The Default Search Engine In Chrome

Yesterday I read a great post by Gabriel Weinberg, the founder of DuckDuckGo, on how he got DuckDuckGo into Time's top websites of 2011. I just loved the way he talked about what he did and shared the strategy with everyone else. So I decided I'd make DuckDuckGo my default search engine for the next month or two and see if I miss Google.

But since I use Chrome and just type whatever I'm looking for right into the address bar, I needed to change the default search engine. Happily DuckDuckGo told me how to do it. You learn something new every day and I learned this yesterday:

1 – When in Chrome, put the cursor over the address bar, doesn't matter what address is in it, and right click. You'll see a few choices, select "edit search engines"

2 – Then scroll down under "other search engines" and find the one you want to switch to and hover over it. There will be a button that says "make default". Click that.

3 – you are done. start searching in Chrome with a new search engine.

I think it might be nice to go back to a search engine that doesn't do anything other than search. DuckDuckGo seems to be exactly that. So I'm giving it a shot at my search business.


"Audio Preview" Is A Bad User Experience

I read the Google blog post announcing their enhancements to music searches this morning. I think it's terrific that Google has made these enhancements but there's one thing I don't like.

Google says:

Now, when you enter a music-related query — like the name of a song,
artist or album — your search results will include links to an audio
preview of those songs provided by our music search partners MySpace (which just acquired iLike) or Lala.
When you click the result you'll be able to listen to an audio preview
of the song directly from one of those partners. For example, if I
search for [21st century breakdown], the first results provide links to
songs from Green Day's new album. MySpace and Lala also provide links
to purchase the full song.

I really dislike the "audio preview" experience. It's been available for years in the iTunes store and I never use it. A 30 second sample of a song is an awful experience in my opinion.

When I want to search for music, I'll do an mp3 search on the Internet or go to the hype machine and do the search there. I almost always get the result I want with one of those two approaches and I can listen to the entire song.

Of course, it is not Google's fault that they are being limited to an "audio preview", it is the fault of the rights holders who won't let Google offer a full song sample. But as we've seen again and again, this only drives users to the "gray market" where they can get a full song sample which is often just a right click away from an illegal download.

A smarter approach would be to allow Google to offer a full song sample (one play per person based on cookies or some other approach) and then a link to purchase. That would allow Google and the music rights holders to take share back from mp3 search engines and encourage music purchases instead of illegal music downloads.

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#My Music#Web/Tech