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1/25/2011
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Qwiki Launches Multimedia Search Engine

Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin’s startup launches public alpha days after getting an $8 million cash infusion.

Startup Qwiki, the multimedia search Web site formed by Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin and YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim, on Monday opened its alpha to the public, only days after receiving a cash infusion of $8 million.

"Since we launched our private alpha in October of last year, we've received a tremendous amount of feedback from our private alpha users; including a truly amazing response to our mission of forever changing the way the world receives its information," Qwiki posted on its blog on Monday. "We've added some new features and functionalities, and continue to ask for feedback from each of you in helping us perfect our technology. If you were a private alpha user, please note that we have some new features, including ways to suggest content to improve Qwikis and embed Qwikis on other sites."

The company reportedly received more than 100,000 requests to join the private alpha program.

Qwiki includes more than 3 million reference terms including people, places, and things. When users enter an index term, they receive what the company calls an "information experience" describing the query. Enter "San Francisco," for example, and opt from a selection of videos, photographs, maps, and more, which link in turn to related suggestions such as California, the San Francisco Giants, and the San Francisco 49ers.

"Custom animations are created based on data gathered by Qwiki, including timelines and populations," Qwiki said. "We've also made it easy to copy and share the link for the Qwiki you're watching by clicking on the shortened shortcut, located at the top right of each Qwiki. You can even embed the Qwiki on another site. Just copy and paste the embedding code and select what size you'd like."

The company is collecting feedback on Qwikis, gathering this information via a form and a star-rating system bar located at the top of each Qwiki. Viewers also are encouraged to leave comments, the company said.

The site apparently is rapidly expanding its knowledge base: On its "About Us" page, it claims to have 2 million reference terms, one-third fewer than its newly updated figures.

"Soon you'll be able to watch Qwikis on your Facebook friends, local restaurants -- and we hope, eventually any topic in the world. In fact, any publisher or person will soon be able to create Qwikis," the company wrote.

Palo Alto, Calif.-based Qwiki, also co-founded by Juniper Networks' CEO and CTO Pradeep Sindhu, last week received $8 million in funding from Greylock, Lerer Ventures, Contour Ventures, and Tugboat Ventures.

"Our new financial partners will help provide the resources, independence, and strategic know-how to grow Qwiki to the next level and forever improve the way the world consumes information," said Imbruce, in a statement at the time.

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