Many reporters and venture capitalists ask me to name my top vertical search engines. I decided to compile a listing of what I think will be the search engines that take market share away from Google, Yahoo and Microsoft over the next 3 years.
Kayak– If your like me, you hate searching dozens of site for the best travel deals. With gas prices at an all time high, you need to save every penny. Whenever I plan a travel trip, I first go to kayak.com to find the best deals. It’s UI is clean and easy to understand, it gives me the right level of filtering tools, and most importantly, it’s comprehensive. It searches over 200 travel sites to give me the best deals on airfare, hotel, cars, and vacations. Only a few years old, Kayak is the clear leader in this vertical. In fact, it bought out its main rival sidestep.com for $200 million a few weeks ago.
Farecast.com– With a UI very similar to Kayak, Farecast was bought by Microsoft a few months ago. Lets see how it develops over the next few months and if Microsoft will be able to eat away at the travel search market. Sometimes, I think that Microsoft should have never let Expedia go. They should have kept it in-house and placed its bets on making that the comprehensive travel search engine.
Zvents – When I met Zvents CEO Ethan Stock a few years back, I never thought I would end up using his service almost every weekend in boring Redwood City, CA. But I must admit, finding something to do in a small town is hard and sometimes a search engine can help. That’s where sites like Zvents come in. I play with all the local event sites, and Zvents by far has the best listings and the easiest to use UI.
Eventful – I have not used this site as much as Zvents, but a lot of people swaer by it. Eventful relies on the community to come and fill out local events. While this may help you find a unique happening once in a while, I personally prefer a comprehesive and automated approach like Zvents.
Amazon – Not many people realize this, but Amazon is slowly becoming a search engine! A Search Engine for any product you want to buy. Today, when I shop on Amazon, half the products I get delivered are not even sold by Amazon, but by one of their trusted merchants. Hmmm…sounds like they are nicely going from just a commerce site to a complete search engine for products. Not a bad direction. They already have the brand, they understand the unique UI needed for product search, and users trust them
theFind.com– Siva Kumr, CEO of the thefind.com thinks that a pure focus on crawling commerce related products across the web and a great UI can make a big difference in product search. I tend to agree. His search engine is one that could give Amazon some heartburn in a few years.
Shopping.com– Owned by eBay, this is a big ad network as well as a money machine when it comes to the volume of transactions that happen on the site. My only concern is that eBay tends to be slow in innovating their properties and care too much about near term results (something all public companies have to do at some time or another). If they can keep pace with companies like thefind.com and Amazon, I see a lot of competition in this space. Which is good for consumers.
Spock– Yup. Not surprising that I would pick spock.com as the best people search engine. Especially since I am the co-founder of the company. But I REALLY REALLY do believe that we have the best people search engine out there. Spock is only people search site that really tries to index the web and create a real search engine. Compare results on Spock and any other site and let me know if you think someone else is better. I would love some competition in this space.
Seeqpod– A few of my engineers love to use this music search engine while coding away at Spock. It helps them not only find music they are looking for, but it also has a discovery feature that lets you discover music that you may like. A pretty nifty feature if you ask me. Sometimes, it is hard to search or know what you are searching for, and a discovery UI is pretty helpful. However, don’t get too cozy with Seeqpod just yet. They are being sued by Warner Music for you guessed it (copyright). We’ll have to wait and see how this pans out.
Grooveshark– Similar to Seeqpod, they index web pages that contain user uploads music files and is catching up quickly to some established players in this space. Will have to wait and see what happens here as well and the legal loopholes that may need to navigate.
Truveo– It’s surprising to me how many people think that YouTube is the be all and end all of video. Ya, they have 90%market share, but so what! Netscape and Yahoo had that type of share at one point, and now look at what happened. In the world of the Internet, nothing is certain. That is why I think video search is an attractive market to be in. If Google is placing their money on YouTube, then should not one of the other big boys place their bets on a company like Truveo? They do a really good job of indexing videos across the web. I was surprised at how well they indexed video’s of me on the web.
Blinkx– It’s like watching 50 TV channels at once. A really unique UI and interesting take on video display. They are now even offering local video search – not bad. This site is definitely worth a peak.