I am not sure if there is any company out there right now who really has a good shot to unseat Google as the king of search. But, that doesn't mean it's not fun to talk about. Check out this article on the Read/Write Web. At a minimum it is a good summary and categorization of the players out there who have a shot at beating Google, and maybe you'll get lucky and discover the next Google. Some of my thoughts...
- The article missed a bunch of companies, of course, since it is not possible to name everyone, especially in the Web 2.0 world where things seem to pop up overnight like mushrooms. One notable company (Alexa ranking of ~1900) missed in the vertical search space is ZoomInfo. They are building some nifty stuff and the ability to search on people, rather than documents that mention people is useful since many times different documents are referring to the same person, and you want to find all information related to a single person. And many times this with the same or similar names to others. Just try to find yourself or some business colleagues on ZoomInfo... and then try the same thing on Google. The problem gets worse if you want to find your friend Jane Smith or Dave Jones...
- Google's strategy in search should not be to be an innovator. Their innovative activity should be focused on things like spreadsheets & documents, Gmail, and other services that could unseat Microsoft. In search, they should just focus on taking the best of what these upstart companies produce and copying it. They have a huge market share in search and a really powerful brand. As long as they do not fall too far behind, they will not lose much ground.
Mike Volpe is a startup advisor and angel investor based in Boston.