Cuil: The Worst Tech Company Launch Of The Year

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A company that plans to compete with Google (GOOG) probably needs to get off to a good start. Google’s size and market share would make the task of getting into its business seem nearly impossible, and self-inflicted damage never helps an already risky beginning.

Enter Cuil, the search engine which claims to look at 121 billion web pages. That is a number about three times greater than Google. But, Cuil’s launch was such an extraordinary disaster, the residents of Googletown can sleep undisturbed tonight.

Cuil got as much publicity as any tech launch in a very long time. Stories ran in The Wall Street Journal, NY Times, TechCrunch, a number of wire services and at Yahoo! News. Most of the comments were favorable. Cuil was started in part by Google engineers. They should know what they are doing.

Intelligence can rarely trump common sense. The launch was a catastrophe. Someone forgot to consider the a safety net for problems. Someone forgot to go over all of the things that could go wrong on the first day

From when most of the press coverage began until late in the day, users going to Cuil got a message "no results because of a high load…Due to excessive load, our servers didn’t return results. Please try your search again."

Motorola said it would break apart one of its divisions today. The search phrase ‘Motorola breaks up division" bought back one result on Cuil. On Google, it returned over 646,000 results. Most of those probably aren’t relevant.

The search "John Edwards affair" should be a fairly easy one now that he has a mistress and love child. Cuil locked up, so no one will ever know what it would have produced.

Greg Penner of Madrone Capital Partners, Dave Strohm of Greylock Partners, and Dave Whorton of Tugboat Ventures put the VC money into Cuil. At this point, that investment is not worth much and it would be a miracle if that ever changes.

Douglas A. McIntyre