Jason Calacanis shares a number of attributes, along with the initials, of Jeremy Clarkson. Both are tall, gregarious and outrageously outspoken in their quest for PR. (According to .net magazine, Calacanis called SEO ‘bullshit’ and a ‘wasted industry’ while speaking at a search engine conference, and said anyone from PayPerPost should kill themselves.)
But, unlike Clarkson, Calacanis is more than a one-dimensional critic: he’s a creator. This is the chap who started Silicon Alley Reporter and brought us Weblogs, Inc before selling up to AOL. His latest project is the human powered search engine, Mahalo.
Paid humans review the Wikipedia pages Mahalo includes (opposed to volunteers) and humans also scrutinise the Google results to reduce the risk of gaming. The two results are mashed up to provide what Calacanis reckons is the ultimate in search accuracy with a massive dose of trust thrown in.
It’s just out of beta having reached 100,000 search terms and attracted 4.6 million uniques in August – no alternative search engine has broken the 1 million barrier. But like so many ‘new’ web projects (think Twitter) they aren’t even trying to make money yet as Calacanis’ profile has secured the project five years of funding.
It’s about building a useful service that people want, but Calacanis is also very ambitious. He wants to create the next Wikipedia or Yahoo and carve a 10% market share out of search. It’s early days but keep an eye on this guy; he’s far more that just a mouth.