The Search Wars: Can the Wikipedia boss take on Google?

Jimmy Wales, the Wikipedia boss, has now detailed how he plans to take on Google, the search behemoth. Google is so good and so powerful, you get the feeling that competitors are at a bit of a loss on how exactly to take the search giant on.

Even Microsoft, which has never run away from a fight, appears to be at a loss. During the Browser Wars of the 90s, Microsoft famously destroyed Netscape from complete market dominance to utter ruin in a period of about six years, making Internet Explorer the dominant browser of today.

This is confirmation of what Jimmy Wales told me on a trip to Cape Town recently. He told me it would be “fun” to launch a Google and Yahoo rival. He also said it would be a different kind of competition — that he would compete with the online giants “in a radically different, public, transparent way”. reports that the search project plans to launch by the end of 2007 and will combine human-assisted editing with computer-controlled searches. Earlier this year Wales’ commercial startup company, Wikia, purchased the rights to web crawler platform Grub. Grub users download a program which makes uses of their computer’s processing power while the machine is left idle. If widely adopted, such an arrangement could reduce the need for Wikia to set up a web crawling network of its own.

Wales plans to base his search algorithms on a combination of human input and computer-driven technology. Is the search scene set for a shakeup?

Matthew Buckland: Publisher


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