Outside of Baidu.com backers in China, what VC would think of investing in a search company with Google casting such a huge shadow? Wait, don't answer that: There may be a niche for search on a smaller scale. Look at Krugle, which recently got $6.1 million in second-round funding aimed at ramping up staff levels and building out its product, which connects software developers with code examples.
The idea is to help programmers get their hands on code and other technical information fast, says Bob Cagle, Krugle's VP of product development. Search results include source code, technical terms, and white papers, plus stuff that's harder for the Googles of the world to index. "There are a lot of repositories of code that regular search engines can't get to because it's compressed in zip files or archived files," Cagle says. "We've grabbed quite a number of those files and indexed them."
Sources for the search engine include Apache, JavaDocs, SourceForge, and Wikipedia. Krugle also plans to offer a workspace where programmers can work independently or collaboratively by sharing search results and annotations with their peers.
The question is whether vertical search is a sweet spot where companies can flourish or just a bull's-eye for acquisitions. John Furrier, founder of PodTech.net, pointed to AOL's video search at a conference earlier this year as the only example of a "real breakthrough" among offerings from firms at the conference. He suggested many vertical search companies "are a feature to be flipped"--in short, that being incrementally better than Google was no sign of strength.
But while many vertical search startups are specializing by content--segments like jobs, travel, or health--Krugle is going after a community. Certainly, something's working: Even though its product hasn't been released to the general public, 35,000 developers are registered and using Krugle's beta version.