Blinkx: Kathy Rittweger and Suranga Chandratillake

Not all web search needs to be done through Google, we take a look at another option


Google won’t be frightened just yet, but the launch of search engine tool Blinkx has certainly caught the eye. It promises, and appears to deliver, more sophisticated search results.

The company’s technology not only trawls the web, but your hard drive, emails, attachments, news sites and web logs simultaneously. And all in the background on your desktop, without interrupting work. Other benefits include tracing forgotten documents, relevant further reading, and free video clip suggestions from the BBC.

Founders, technology entrepreneur Kathy Rittweger and 26-year-old Cambridge University graduate Suranga Chandratillake, created the system while Rittweger was working on a project for the Japanese tourist board.

Her struggle to narrow her searches sufficiently to find what she was after led her to discuss the problem with Chandratillake. He believed he could create a solution, having previously worked for Autonomy, which produced Kenjin – a similar system launched a couple of years before. Kenjin underperformed, but eventually led to what is now Blinkx’s core technology.

Existing search engines have traditionally searched sites for the frequency in which key words appear. Blinkx, however, gauges the context too. That appeal encouraged some prominent technology angels to invest £5m. And so far they’ve turned down numerous offers of venture capital.

The software, which is free to download, launched officially in July. Microsoft, Google and others are unlikely to launch their own versions of PC-based search engines until at least next year, giving Blinkx valuable first-mover advantage.

Rittweger previously ran filtering software company Firefly, which was acquired by Microsoft in 1999 and followed that by running web loyalty programme Netincentives until the dot com bubble killed the market. Unlike some back then, Blinkx has clear revenue streams, with ads tailored to search results, plus white labelling and affiliate marketing, even though searches remain independent.

How the company copes when the bigger players do launch competition remains to be seen, but Rittweger is quietly confident and already has her sights on Japan: “The technology is languageindependent and boils down to mathematics. We think it’s quite special.”

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