He apparently secured the domain last November, before he knew what he’d ultimately do with it… a tendency I know very well. But he soon found his idea, found some funding, and finally launched the site today.
Mahalo is the world’s first human-powered search engine powered by an enthusiastic and energetic group of Guides. Our Guides spend their days searching, filtering out spam, and hand-crafting the best search results possible.
At first glance, it looks like a cross between Wikipedia (apparently using a similar engine) and the faltering Open Directory Project. The emphasis is on the manual, personal review of links and information. This is, perhaps, the only answer to algorithm-driven searches and the industries devoted to undermining them, but it’s also a massively labor-intensive undertaking. It was how the original Yahoo! directory was built… but even charging sites $300 a pop wasn’t enough to sustain it.
Then again, today, even the best search engines are cluttered with too much information, much of it useless and lost in a fog of SEO and spam. In this new web landscape, can Mahalo.com’s people power beat the algorithm?
Reports TechCrunch: “Mahalo has 40 full time guides today and have created 4,000 results pages — each of which will serve approximately 12 various queries. Calacanis says that the guides are steadily improving results and adding more queries – they expect to have 10,000 by end of year, and 25,000 by end of 2008… Calacanis stressed that it is going to take them a couple of years to get really deep results for most queries — until the end of 2007 the site will be in Alpha, and will be in beta for all of 2008.”
In technology, things change fast. But a long-term plan can sometimes be the best way to survive.
Interestingly, while “mahalo” means “thanks,” the tagline for the new site is, “We’re here to help.” I immediately thought to myself that Kokua.com might be a more fitting domain name, as “kokua” means “help.” As it turns out, Calcanis owns Kokua.com, too. I guess he decided “mahalo” was more catchy.