Wikia: A Chance To Challenge Google (GOOG)

Douglas A. McIntyre

Wikia, run by the founder of massive online encyclopedia Wikipedia, is getting closer to launching a community-developed Web search service. It has just bought Grub, a pioneering Web crawler, according to CNN Money. Adding the new company to its mix will allow Wikia to “combine computer-driven algorithms and human-assisted editing.” The news search project will be

open source so that a large number of developers should be able to work on and enhance the code.

At first, this might see to be the kind of pipe dream search engine launch that comes along once a month and claims it will challenge Google (GOOG) and Yahoo! (YHOO). But, the Wikia project has two important advantages.

Wikia’s head, Jimmy Wales, started Wikipedia, the ninth most visited website in the US with 47 million unique visitors in June. No other new search project has an affiliation to a web property with that kind of audience. The other advantage the new search project may have its is populist roots.This kind of “community activity” on the web has built sites like Wikipedia and the large social networks. The costs of operating these sites are low compared with properties like Yahoo!

Wikia will never catch Google, but it could take enough share (just four or five points) to disrupt the plans of Yahoo! or Microsoft (MSFT) and that would be saying something in and of itself.

Douglas A. McIntyre