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Friday, January 27, 2006

Kosmix : Interesting Upstart

Matt Marshall writes about the latest venture of two of the founders of Junglee: Anand Rajaraman and Venky Harinarayan : the duo have come together to launch Kosmix. From siliconbeat : "Aiming to what they call as unsolved problem on the web - they are making an audaciously risky bet that they can crack the code on a vexing problem in search: finding the meaning, or at least the topic of a Web page. Kosmix is betting its deep technology can help improve upon Google's one-size-fits-all approach for many types of searches. Google may work well when you're looking for a specific answer.But what if there's no one right answer? This is where Kosmix wants to help you, by searching the entire web and narrowing the results to the particular area you are interested in - and then giving you a choice of answers". The duo claim most of these other sites crawling only 500 or so Web sites relevant to their niches. Kosmix, like Google and Yahoo, is crawling and indexing the entire Web. It has come up with its own technology to rank pages by category, instead of by keyword.
Kosmix doesn't use pagerank - or popularity, based on the number links to a page. As pagerank is seen as inefficient when it comes to categories. Instead, Kosmix looks at what pages that link to other pages are saying - to take a bigger stab at judging the meaning or subject of the page. Its like the "category rank" - essentially tagging pages with categories- call it "Auto-tagging the Web."
There are some interesting anecdotes as well: Post jungle.com acquisition by Amazon, they worked for a while in amazon.com and Rajaraman shares an interesting detail – when approached for an acquisition by amazon – he recalls: "And we kind of asked, at that point, 'Sergey, if Amazon were to buy you guys, what sort of price would you sell for?' I remember Sergey telling me: 'The only kind of price we'd accept would be something with ten digits [billions].' If he'd said nine digits, we might have talked." Kosmix has started with a health search, but will soon roll out travel and politics search, and will follow with a rolling thunder of scores of other types of searches. This is not lightweight stuff. They have filed patents, and there's tons of math in their algorithms. Interesting to watch – trials returned interesting results.

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