My new start-up: I Google For You

The search engine for busy people.


Farhad Manjoo
April 1, 2008 3:00PM (UTC)

I'm happy to announce some very exciting news: Over the past couple months, while peddling my new book and blogging about Eliot Spitzer, I've been secretly working on a revolutionary Internet start-up. The idea came to me in a flash, and in a short time I've assembled seed funding, put together a team of temp engineers, and coded a sophisticated Web operation.

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Today, it goes live. I'm happy to unveil I Google For You. Try it out now!

The site takes as its premise an old problem: Searching the Web is too difficult. Sure, it looks easy; even a 3-year-old can launch a search engine, enter a few keywords, and click on the first link. But how often do those links lead to sites that 3-year-olds -- or, for that matter, aging hipsters like yourself -- are really looking for? Very rarely, I'll hazard.

Type in "paris," for instance, and both Google and Yahoo respond with several useless links about the capital of France before providing a single worthy site on the hotel heiress socialite.

Or, say you're hungry and would like to research varieties of fruit. Ask Microsoft's Windows Live Search about "macintosh apples" and you get pages of links about an obscure computer company; Google and Yahoo make the same unforgivable mistake. Want to know about the popular 1990s rock band Bush? Of course you do -- so why do all search engines tell you instead about some federal official who happens to have the same name? Puzzling indeed.

To be sure, smart people have been trying to solve such problems for years. Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and others devote enormous engineering resources to their search systems -- they hire computer science Ph.D.s, maintain racks of supercomputers, constantly tweak their algorithms. Meanwhile, a new breed of search sites -- like Jason Calacanis' Mahalo and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales' Search Wikia -- have tried to improve search results by enlisting searchers themselves. At these search engines, people have a voice in what comes up in response to certain keywords, a method that some people say could produce more accurate results.

My new search engine is a radical distillation of that idea. Here, results are determined entirely by people online. Actually, by just a single person: Me.

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At I Google For You, I will Google for you. You type in what you're looking for. I will search for it. When I find a site that I believe fits your query, I'll send you back the link.

You read correctly: Unlike my rival search sites, I send you back a single link. As I explain in the site's FAQ, I am a terrific Googler with years of search-engine experience, so I can cut through the chaos online to find you the one link you need. Wading through thousands of bad links is my job, not yours.

I know what you're thinking: Oh my God, that's the answer to my prayers! Yippee! Marry me!

You're welcome.

I'd be remiss not to thank my investors. Some participants in the venture have asked that they not be named, but I am at liberty to express my gratitude to the following supporters of innovation: Binzhou Futian Biotechnology, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Tata Motors, the Dubai Sovereign Wealth Fund, Dress Barn Inc., and the New York Times Company.

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Please send feedback, media inquiries or congratulations to fm@igoogleforyou.com.


Farhad Manjoo

Farhad Manjoo is a Salon staff writer and the author of True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society.

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