One way to ensure your new human-powered search engine is a success is to give it a Hawaiian name. It worked for Jimmy Wales – Wikipedia is a huge success and “Wiki wiki” is Hawaiian for “quick” – and it could work for Jason Calacanis’ new search engine, Mahalo.com (Hawaiian for thank you).
The site has just launched in “alpha”, and Calacanis is quick to let us know what exactly that means…
Mahalo.com is in ALPHA–that means not ready for users, but looking for feedback.
Calacanis’ business buddy, Michael Arrington, has a comprehensive write-up on Mahalo (he’s not invested, but working with Jason on another project).
The primary results for search terms are included at the top, in a â€œtop sevenâ€ area. These are hand picked results from the guids that should all be good results for the query (see screen shot below of results for â€œParis Hotelsâ€ – click for larger view). To the right of the results are â€œGuide Notesâ€ which include additional information including relevant additional searches and â€œFast Facts.â€ In the case of Paris Hotels, the â€œFast Factsâ€ include the country, language, currenty and telephone country code.
Just about every result on Maholo is picked by one of the 40 full time employees, with some user submitted stuff too. According to Arringtom, Mahalo is looking to tap into the “top search terms” and currently have 4000 of their own results pages, with 25,000 exected by the end of 2008. Obviously this only serves a few dozen search queries, so if a user enters something more obscure, they get Google results instead. The current focus of the site includes travel, products, news, entertainment, sports, food and health.
“Google’s mission is to index the world’s information; our mission is to curate that wonderful index,” said Calacanis in a press release. “It’s my belief that humans can play a significant role in the development of search results and we’re going to try to figure out exactly what that role is over the next couple of years. I am really looking forward to hearing what people think of the Alpha,” he added.
While Calacanis does have a midas-touch and Mahalo is heavily funded, I’m not quite ready to jump on the “it’s gonna be a huge success” bandwagon just yet. I think Mahalo has a great name, and has a lot of potential, but I’ll reserve my endorsement until the site has shown it can scale to a more realistic number of results.
Have you tried Mahalo, what do you think of it?