Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Jawaya: Shared Search--or Searching Made Social

I've always bought into the argument that staying stealth is important for a startup with something groundbreaking, and that's the approach I've taken with Jawaya.

But the reality is that very little new in tech is really new; sometimes it's the timing, execution, deals, or delivery that makes the difference between success and not.

Today I decided to talk about it, because it's clear there's competition right around the corner. It's time, even though we're at first alpha.

Jawaya is shared search, and through that, it's a search network. It's a way to get better search results through the discovery of results that others have found from the same search and shared to the world.

The quality of those results has been determined by the person sharing the results; the relevance of that person to your interest and search is key to your trust in the quality of the results. That's a big part of the work we're doing.

Google indexes sites based on algorithms that determine relevance, which leads to SEO-targeted sites often rising above the most relevant, high-quality content.

With Jawaya, we give you the tools to rate and save the results of their searches, and connect you to other people--it's a search network leveraging collective niche intelligence to cut through a lot of the mediocre web.

Search is expressed intent; it's what you want at that moment, what you're really thinking. When you share your search history and results, you give people the benefit of the work you've already done to serve that shared expressed intent.

The world moves faster when fewer of us are struggling to search through the haystack. We need more needles, less hay.

The technology world started converging on this space last Fall--it's an inevitable evolution that combines search with social. In 2005, Microsoft Research produced an app for collaborative search. It was ugly and targeted toward teams, but it recognized the fundamental problem: we do a lot of redundant searching, and are often frustrated by the lack of quality results.

Yahoo has some patents around pairing search with chat, which is also in our plans. Searchroullette is an interesting prospect, of course.

So there has been a lot of thought about this by a lot of people, and you're starting to see a variety of takes on this by a number of startups. We have our own patents in the works, and feel pretty confident about our approach--it will serve people well, we believe, and we'll improve as we hear from you.

Jawaya's beta starts tomorrow. We'll release it in phases:

  • first, all of your searches and relevant results are saved, mostly in the background, passively.

  • you can tag your searches and results, or do it as your searching.

  • You can like results, or mark them as "perfect"--exactly what you needed. Eventually you'll also vote down a result.

  • Your results will be shared with others if they are relevant to their searches--you'll be helping people right away.

  • You can make all or some of your searches private.

  • You will not likely discover other people or their results in the early days of this. The primary benefit early is that you're building your own library of the searches and results you find compelling, and organizing them to your liking.


The look and feel of Beta 1 ain't the greatest, but we hope you'll help us make it suck less. It's definitely functional. The purpose of Beta programs is to get your feedback to help improve the product, but I'm definitely proud of where we've taken it.

In Beta 2, we're adding a number of important features around social networks. I'll talk about that some other time. Search needs are different when you're on the go--mobile is something I'm paying a lot of attention to.

We are not venture funded, though we've raised a bit of capital and plan to raise more. I'm grateful for a solid team, and love what we're working on. I feel a sense of mission--to make the world better by removing obstacles for people in their processes of discovery. Discovery is such a powerful, inspiring thing.

In the meantime, we're no longer stealth. Sign up for Beta 1 at http://www.jawaya.com. If you've already signed up, you'll be getting instructions for getting the beta in the next day or so. We're rolling out progressively, so it might take a few days to get to you (over 1400 people have signed up). Send your friends, too.

Thanks for helping!

3 comments:

  1. Very cool, can't wait to give it a whirl!

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  2. This is very exciting Charlie!

    There are some very interesting startups in the search space these days. Search engines like Blekko are taking on spam and shared or social search products like your's are getting good results.

    With Bing's market share increasing, there is enough disruption in the search market for startups to make a name for themselves, gain some market share, or get bought out.

    Looking forward to the beta invite!

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  3. thanks RJ and Ben. The first beta is pretty raw but we need the feedback and will be rolling it shortly...

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