Google, a search engine that began as a research project back in 1996, has come to dominate the world of search.
This immense domination of the Internet by Google led the Australian government to launch the latest probe into the company’s monopoly on Dec. 4. And in June the European Union fined the company a record € 2.4 bln for manipulating search records. The EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager told The Verge:
“What Google has done is illegal under EU antitrust rules. It denied other companies the chance to compete on the merits and to innovate. And most importantly, it denied European consumers a genuine choice of services and the full benefits of innovation.”
Clearly, the search engine sector could need an infusion of fresh blood to not only keep the spirit of innovation alive but to also give consumers a choice. What if the next generation of search engine was powered by the community and based on open source technology? Presearch, an open, decentralized search project that rewards users, contributors and promoters is betting that with the right tools, the community can compete against the big guys.
The tokenization of search
Presearch recently launched a beta version that enables users to search various providers through a single search field. The project believes this is the first step in breaking the dependence we all have on Google. It seems to be working; more than 50 percent of beta testers have become daily users, generating more than 20 pageviews each per day on average. More than 2,000 beta testers are waiting to test the search engine.
Presearch allows for searching of Google, Amazon, DuckDuckGo and others. The platform combines Blockchain rewards to incentivize users to make the switch and build a community around the tokenization of search. Beta users are able to gain rewards at the rate of eight tokens per day.
As the Presearch whitepaper states, “We are exploring a model that will enable Members running a Presearch browser extension (and potentially a standalone browser) to act as web crawling and indexing nodes that would build the Presearch index as they surf the web. This would enable Presearch to get around one of the most difficult crawling challenges; getting blocked by webmasters. Members running nodes will earn PRE Tokens in exchange for utilizing their computers and internet connections for Presearch.”
Leveraging Blockchain to build a next-generation search engine
Using Blockchain technology, Presearch plans to enable users to personalize their experience while staying in control of their data. Blockchain-based user verification will help the project combat the fraud that is sure to arise as users attempt to game the system to earn more tokens.
Smart contracts will enable advertising revenue will advertising revenue to be split between the users and the project. Decentralization will allow Presearch to shift development to the community and there are already early pointers that this is happening. The project has people from all over the helping to curate content, organizing local teams, developing add-ons and providing feedback.
The real heart of the project is the community
The project has taken a community-centric approach from the very onset, and will ultimately allow members to help build and maintain the search engine which is based on an open source framework.
Presearch recently endowed a DAO that is controlled by community members with 550 ETH to begin establishing the governance model and setting up the project for the second phase, which it anticipates entering in late 2018 or early 2019.
Colin Pape, the founder of Presearch reveals:
“We are thrilled with the early reception to the beta and the level of excitement within the community of early adopters. It’s amazing to be a part of it, and it’s great that we can reward these Members for helping to improve the platform and spread the word with PRE tokens.”
Successful token sale
After the successful completion of the Presearch token sale that realized $16 mln in revenue, the project is all ready to build an ecosystem based on Presearch Tokens (PRE). An interesting strategy that they are deploying to ensure participation is gamification of search. Users will be rewarded for actions that they complete. PRE will be used for rewards related to usage, promotion and contribution. It will also be used for sponsorships and promotional placements. PRE will be the means of rewarding partners who provide traffic and visibility to the search engine and PRE will also have a role in providing input into community matters and will be used to encourage development projects. Members will also be able to reward other members.
Taking a strategic approach
Creating a search engine is complex and expensive, however, Presearch has taken a novel route by tokenizing search and is counting on community involvement to take on the incumbents from the grassroots while keeping the organization lean.
With Presearch successfully onboarding leaders in search space such as Rich Skrenta, co-founder of the Open Directory Project (DMOZ) and Trey Grainger, author of the No. 1 book on Solr, open source search technology on its advisory team, it is ready to take on the challenges in the $100 bln search market. Will they be able to put a stiff challenge to Google? Perhaps it is best answered by Pape who recounts:
“After battling Google head-on in 2011 when they blocked access to our ShopCity.com network, we realized that going head-to-head was not a viable strategy. We barely escaped that encounter with them due to an ongoing antitrust investigation that shed some extra light on our situation. This time, we are taking a more strategic approach.”
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