Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Barney of PoswerSet at VLAB's event at the GSB

Just came from one of VLAB's interesting panels that was held at the GSB. I had go to it despite having one of my finals tomorrow. The panel was about "Next Generation Search".

At the center of the event was Barney Pell the CEO and Founder of PowerSet - the startup aiming at disrupting online search through the use of AI. Barney made a very informative presentation about his vision about search and PowerSet's potential.

It was interesting to know that PowerSet's technology is based on exclusive rights to some of PARC's NLP technologies that weren't widely applied. I would typically think a startup develops all its core technologies from scratch. This said, PowerSet has added value by adapting this technology to serve online searchers and advertisers.

Among the things Barney presented was the results searches like "who did IBM acquire?" as obtained from PowerSet and Google. The discrepancy in the relevancy of results was impressive. Despite this being a highly controlled experiment, the potential is clear.

Among the panelists, was Munjai Shah, CEO and Co-Founder of Riya that had launched Munjai pointed out the relatively high indexing cost both and PowerSet have - Powerset cost is 100 times more than Google's. This requires huge CapEx giving Google a big advantage. PowerSet offsets this by renting processing power from Amazon at relatively low costs. Nice interplay with AWS.

Another concern is language sensitivity, not to mention dialects. From Barney's response, it seems there would be considerable discrepancy in the accuracy across different languages.

Despite these shortcomings, the promise of PowerSet remains compelling. And it would be nice to see how this will develop in the future. It was very interesting to be int the middle of this active discussion because i was just proposing to my strategy professor to do an independent study about incumbents and entrants in consumer Internet with digital media and search as the first two suggestions.

For such events and interactions, i don't want to leave the bay area in the summer :( and go to Amazon.

No comments: