Cuill – Have We Found a Google Killer?

by Stephen Pitts on September 9, 2007


Cuill Inc. (pronounced [kool]) is a startup company that is pioneering a new approach to Search.

What’s so special?

Cuill, the secretive search start-up — This is the latest start-up, started by two Google folks and two Stanford folks. Co-founders include Tom Costello, of Stanford, and Anna Patterson, formerly at Stanford and now at Google (described as a search wizard). They’re raising a VC round for the company. We’re told they claim they can crawl the Web at a tenth of the cost Google can. We’ve contacted Costello to find out more. We’re open to tips if you hear of anything.
from Venture Beat, Feb 12, 2007

The company’s main claim is that it can index web pages significantly faster and cheaper than Google can – Cuill has told potential investors that their indexing costs will be 1/10th of Google’s, based on new search architectures and relevance methods. In some ways Cuill is the polar opposite of Powerset, which has huge indexing costs because it does a deep contextual analysis on every sentence on every web page. Powerset’s indexing costs, therefore, should be much higher per web page than Google’s.

Cuill was also founded by highly respected search experts. Husband and wife team Tom Costello and Anna Patterson were joined by Russell Power. Patterson and Power are ex-Google search experts, and Google must be fuming that their inventions were not added to Google’s intellectual property library. Costello was the founder of Xift.

Cuill met with venture capitalists, but we’re hearing that Costello and Patterson eventually self-funded the company with a $5ish million injection of capital. They now have 10-15 employees and offices in Menlo Park.

Another rumor circulating is that Google already took a shot at acquiring the company with a very healthy offer, showing that they take this potential threat seriously. And the company may have enticed at least one other senior search scientist from Google to join them recently.
from TechCrunch, Sep 4, 2007

What would you do if you could do the same work as your largest competitor at 10 cents on the dollar?

Whether they can actually accomplish this remains to be seen, but if Google has taken notice it is for good reason. Two of the three founders have worked for Google and two out of three have a PhD in computer science (the other is on leave for his PhD).

They have released a very limited amount of information about their technology, in fact, they haven’t said much more than “Yup. We’re working on it.” (search that is). What they said is about their robot:

Twiceler is an experimental robot. The user-agent to block this is twiceler. It could take 24-48 hours for us to re-read your robots.txt file.

Apparently they are already indexing websites.

I look forward to the competition for Google. Could this be an answer for Yahoo, Ask or MSN search?

Little is known, but I am sure that buzz around Cuill will be heating up!

Bill September 9, 2007 at 2:36 pm

This is one of the search startups that I’m really excited about. I’m a fan of Anna Patterson’s, and expect some good things out of the cuill gang.

pittfall September 10, 2007 at 2:15 pm

Thanks Bill! Yeah, this start up has really caused a stir with me too! I am sure that there will be more info coming out in the next few months. With any project that is looking for funding usually requires results… so I guess we will see.


Scott September 12, 2007 at 8:40 pm

I can verify that they are indeed indexing websites, as Twiceler-0.9 has been steadily accessing my website for the past 5+ hours.

pittfall September 13, 2007 at 11:03 am

Thanks for the comment. The folks at Cuill have also released the ip addresses of their crawlers:


Their geographic locations are:
New York – New Jersey – class A 64 block
Texas – class A 38 block
Illinois – class A 208 block

Oh, and it looks like they are looking to hire more staff.

Sam September 17, 2007 at 3:42 pm

Google killer definitely not, but they are killing my website at this moment… My website is getting bombarded by their bots and error logs on the websever are growing, looks like they are having major problems indexing my website.

pittfall September 18, 2007 at 11:09 am

Thanks for the comment and I am sorry to hear that you are getting hit heavily and I am sure that there will be more quirks that they will have to clean up. Have you notified them of this issue?

David Formosa September 30, 2007 at 5:22 pm

It has one of the worst behaved spiders out there. If the spider is indicative of the rest of there code then then Google is not going to be worried. Also given the rate that people are defensively blocking the spider from there sites it will never be anywhere near complete.

pittfall October 1, 2007 at 1:02 pm

Thank you for your comment. So far, there appears much to be desired, however I am sure that they have the capability to become much more than they are now. Does this mean that they will contend with Google (MSN or Yahoo for that matter)? Not yet.

Adivera Web Development October 22, 2007 at 11:25 pm

they are indexing my websites too. i would like to know more about them and their targets in the web.
i like the personal touch of their website, specially with the picture of jim. i only don’t know who is jim ? is it the man behind the horses or is he one of them? ;-)

best regards from switzerland


pittfall October 23, 2007 at 11:06 am

I imagine that they aren’t paying him in shoes and feed, but Cuill still have not given us much to look at… except for the strong horses!

greg November 1, 2007 at 2:07 pm

Cuill not kool. Like most people, I’m tired of them. Their robot does not adhere to any standard to block them and they are not capable of handling UTF-8 encoding. I find it hard to believe that their software was written by anybody that has any legitimate programming experience.

pittfall November 4, 2007 at 2:26 am

Thanks for the comment. I would suggest that until they have launched (or the smoke has cleared and they have gotten their crawlers under control).
Don’t risk your existing traffic.

Vanessa November 6, 2007 at 11:01 am

I would have to concur with the above statements. I banned them from my site last night, but did send them an email explaining why and to be fair did get a response. I have since replied, giving a more in depth explanation why I felt this action was necessary. BTW according to the email I received Jim is a guy called James Akers.

I for one would not like to make negative comments at this stage but in all honesty they were crawling my site nearly 24/7, and I was starting to have some problems. Hope that they can resolve the issues they are currently having because at the moment they are no inspiring confidence

pittfall November 11, 2007 at 10:05 pm

I would like to concur, making negative comments at this time might just be premature, however, there is still very little information that they are have provided since the launch (sorry, no launch). I thank you for the comment, but I am still waiting for more information, as I am sure that many are!

Son Nguyen April 15, 2008 at 2:28 pm

Today Cuill raised another $25 Mil second round. I can’t wait to see the result of an impressive team. It’s definitely interesting to see more startups from ex-Googlers like Cuill, FriendFeed.

clon July 29, 2008 at 8:26 am

I did some searches with that search engine and found nothing excited about the results, in fact, i do agree with this other post when they say that some search results are not relevant to your request, the simple test is:

-go to
-type in the word cuil
-click the search button
-review the first 3 pages
-give up and go back to where the same search will bring you the site itself, a yahoo news related article, another article regarding the search engine in and even you “constancia de cuil” (cuil constance) from a site in argentina.

I don’t know how the google guys do it, i’ve seen a mini-google appliance working and they just give me the information i need in the first 10 pages of results, in fact, i only click on the page 11th of search results just to see how the goooogle word increases.

But… hey… what is your experience with the search results of cuil?

Rip July 29, 2008 at 8:48 am

Some say ‘Cuill’, others say ‘Cuil’. The logo at the start of this article shows ‘Cuill’, but the site is ‘Cuil’. Seems like a poor start if they can’t even get their branding simple to start with.

Ryan Mangaldan September 13, 2010 at 12:57 am

At the present time, Google killer is not yet found but they are trying their best to locate one. They want to make sure that it will be effective.

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