Event: Kelsey Group Drilling Down on Local Search 2005
Session Title: Keynote: Udi Manber, CEO, A9.com
Session Date: April 19, 2005
Session Time: 10:45 am – 11:30 am
Session Description: None
Udi Manber, CEO, A9.com
Related Posts: buzzhit!’s Drilling Down on Local Search 2005 Index Page
Spin-out of Amazon, based in Palo Alto. Responsible for product search on Amazon.com, and for A9.com. Mandate is to innovate in search; to build great stuff.
– Customer centric
– Long term
Are you an R&D Lab:
– Not in the classic sense; we have a direct relationship with customers
– We do concentrate on new innovations, experimentation; our goal is to invent
– Launch A9 9/2004
– A9 Yellow Pages 1/2005
– Open Search 3/2005
– Launching images for five more cities this morning
– Shows live search with google results and image results; shows off tabbed interface
– Open Search, syndicated search, built on an extension to RSS, pick from hundreds of sources.
– Yellow Pages demo… searches sushi in new york; results page with listings, images and map with listings plotted; rolling over a listing highlights it on the map. Shows “walking around the block” and “running around the block”. Enables you to search another way “that place that’s next to the donut shop”. Also includes a “subway map” which lists other businesses on the street (both sides). We put these listings on Amazon, and use its personalization; now people can rate it, write reviews, etc. Very easy sign-up for small businesses on Amazon’s site; enter as little or as much info as you want; all totally free. There’s also a button, “Click to Call Business”; automatically connects you to the business (provided by eStrata).
How we did it and what we learned
– Fully automated process, all you have to do is drive around the city; speed adjusted
– Shows map of photo points of Manhattan (totally saturated)
– Relates security story; mouse use to keep laptop active, but invented “neutered mouse” instead
– 26MM images captured, 20K miles drive, 14MM business detail pages (1MM with images), 20 TB of storage
– 10 cities were launched, 5 more today (D.C., Miami, Phoenix, Houston and Fargo)
Where are we going from here
– We transformed YP from a boring list of phone numbers and addresses into something more exciting
– Search can be more than putting 2-3 words into a search box and getting a list of links
Audience Q: How do you handle refreshing the database as businesses change names, shut down, etc
A: We’re not going to drive only once, because we can do it very efficiently. Plus customers can update the the database
Audience Q: Do you charge?
A: At the moment it’s a free service; we’re funded by the sponsored links.
Audience Q: How do you compare what you’re doing to Google’s Keyhole
A: They come from above, we come from the side.
Audience Q: What product search innovations should we expect in 12-18 months
A: We don’t talk ahead of launch, but we’re working on lets of things
Audience Q: Would you consider licensing or sharing data
Audience Q: Open Search is great, but are you working on a way to dynamically choose which one should be used
A: Yes. In general, you don’t know what source you need for a query, so we need to help solve that.
Audience Q: Click per call, normally that’s a for pay service, and, what about the privacy issues of people being photographed
A: Second question first… if they contact us, we’ll take the image offline; not common. First question, it is free right now, no comments on the future
Audience Q: How do you validate the consumer generated information?
A: First, that’s true for Amazon in general (did they actually read the book); consumer must read it and know for themselves. We also focus on getting people to give real names for reviews. And, there are algorithmic ways for us to analyze.
Audience Q: Are you planning to compete directly with Google, and how will you get the traffic
A: We don’t think about competition, we think about our users
Audience Q: What kind of feedback are you getting
A: Phenomenal. People are starting to use it in ways that we hadn’t expected, like posting A9 photos on Flickr
Audience Q: Do you have any stats on businesses adding info themselves
A: Not marketed, all beta. Not actively pursuing that yet.
* These are raw, unproofed notes taken in real-time. Nothing attributed to any speaker should be assumed to be an exact quote. Rather, my goal was to capture and communicate the essence of what was said. If there is a significant mistake, please post a comment or email me; I will make a correction at my earliest opportunity.