» Quaero: 10 reasons why the French search engine will fail.

Quaero: 10 reasons why the French search engine will fail.

Here are 10 reasons why Quaero, the French search engine, will fail, and “by a frenchman”.

1- Can’t spell it.

How can you trust a project that has not been even able to get its domain name and that nobody can spell right

2- Centralized.

There are no centralized projects on the web that succeed. The web is a web and decentralized by essence. Look at Firefox and the way it takes market share against the centralized Internet Explorer, look at Wikipedia

3- Secret versus beta.

There are no successful secret projects anymore. With 60 million bloggers out there and the dramatic shift from an era of vertical communication into a many-to-many conversation, you have to build your products with the consumers using beta versions, going live and improving the product as you go, not in secret.

4- No buzz, no adoption.

Darwinism is the way the web goes and darwinism is the way startups go. At the very beginning you can feel immediately if an idea or an innovative project is catching up. Look at Skype, 100 million users without advertising but a huge conversational buzz since launch. Nobody knows what Quaero does and what it is exactly, when it will be released. Worse, if you search, you find Exalead, a french search engine supposed to be “better than Google” but that few people use.

5- A galaxy of actors who compete to get the subventions and don’t get much noticed for their latest web innovations

About 25 organisations are involved in Quaero, mostly french. Even though many have excellent reputation, none of them are really known for their innovation around the web today, I mean around the latest standards RSS, conversations, tags, etc. Of course there is Lycos Europe but is Lycos still on the cutting edge of Internet initiatives ?

6- Not really international.

Quaero is introduced by Jacques Chirac as a Franco-German initiative when Deutsche Telecom has already announced it will not take an active role anymore but just be an observer. It looks much more like a French patriotic initiative.

7- A neverending story.

Quaero has been announced as a 5 years project when Google is only barely 8 years old, where will Google be in 5 years when Quaero is finally launched ? In a French podcast, François Bourdoncle, President of Exalead, a company that is said to lead the “multiple heads missile” as he calls the “programme Quaero” admits he does not even know when it should be launched. It was supposed to be introduced in January 2006 and we are still waiting.

8- Not enough euros.

Microsoft barely exists in Search marketshare against Google with his MSN Search. Still, it will invest 1.1 billion $ in 2005 only on search against 260 M€ on 5 years for the French engine. Google generated more than $2 billion in revenues last quarter… We’re launching a competitor which will be five years late with fifty times less money…

9- Subventions euros are not worth venture capital euros.

Maybe Jacques Chirac was not told that Yahoo! and Google were created by Stanford students in their rooms. Sure Jacques Chirac was not told either that they were financed by venture capitalists. People who know the industry, know how fast it goes and help the startups as they grow on a daily basis. They also fight against each other to invest in the next round or decide to sell or let the company die if it fails. Subventions are allocated in a totally different way. Too much politics involved in who will get the “euro shower” and not enough results driven.

10- Google is a thousand startups

These are only a few of the ongoing Google projects. The entire company operates as a thousand startups as employees who have ideas are encouraged to launch them in-house. That is why it is so innovative. How many european startups could the Government help launch if these 250 M€ were invested in them ?

Open source is probably the only possible threat to Google. Wikipedia has more audience than Britannica, Mozilla with Firefox and its hundreds of volunteers is the only organization that is really threatening Microsofts’s dominant position with Internet Explorer. These two last examples are thousands of individuals who decided one day that knowledge should be free and non commercial on the one hand, and that browsing should not be left to a monopolistic Microsoft that does not invest in it anymore. The same may well appear against Google and have chances to succeed. To my knowledge however, there are no such initiatives, probably because not enough people think Google “can be evil” with its dominant role. Why not open source Quaero and engage all individuals who would like to challenge Google’s position ? If the aim is to have an alternative and successful search engine, that it probably the way to go. It’s certainly not by trying to create centralized “multi-heads missiles” in a decentralized World where building communities matter more than the Country they originated from.