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.