September 15, 2008
Search pioneer Louis Monier has left foundering search engine Cuil as the heavily financed startup struggles to get traction.
In a statement, Cuil said Monier, VP of product, would remain as a consultant. Monier is a search innovator, having been a founder of AltaVista, the precursor to Google. Later, Monier worked at some of Google's most advanced projects, including an advanced faceted search engine. "I'm told by Louis that he believes strongly in the goals and potential of the company, especially its technology," said Cuil VP of communications Vince Sollitto, according to media reports. "We think this will be the best role for the company and for him going forward." Monier and Cuil's top management, including CEO Tom Costello, had some philosophical differences in approach and style, Sollitto indicated. Monier's departure comes as Cuil struggles to recover from its disastrous debut in July. In addition to Monier, Cuil boasted two of the top scientists in search -- Anna Patterson and her husband, Costello. But in a heavily promoted debut, the search engine was overwhelmed on its first day and hasn't been able to gain much traction with users since then. Cuil claimed that its technology was able to search an index three times the size of Google. In addition to comprehensive indexing, Cuil is seeking to incorporate in its search engine privacy features that it hopes will overcome some of the complaints of consumers who worry about possible privacy incursions inherent in other search engines. Monier, who was AltaVista's CTO, and some other AltaVista technologists ended up at Google where they contributed to that company's success. Monier is credited with building the first scalable search engine for the Internet. He also developed some of the key search features for eBay.
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