Extra $600m for Google's State Funded European Competitor
Posted under Online Economy

Fed up with Google's dominance of the European market, the German and French governments add another 400m EUR funding to their state funded search engine, Quaero.

The search engine has been contracted to a consortium of 25 companies, Thomson, France Télécom, Siemens AG, Thales, Bertin Technologies, Exalead, Jouve, Synapse Développement, LTU Technologies, Vecsys, and a host research institutes such as INRIA, CNRS, Clips Imag, RWTH Aachen, and Karlsruhe.

Wolfgang Wahlste, director of one of the consortium partners, states that Google is web 1.0 search engine, while Quaero will be a web 2.0 based service, relying heavily on Semantic Web standards for their crawler and processing spiders.

Given the immaturity and lack of achievable goals of the semantic web relative to the bulk of internet web pages, Quaero might be long time in the coming.

Unfortunately, institutional innovation has a poor record compared to market driven innovation. Being an entrepreneur, I am skeptical of the entrepreneurship and creative skills of publicly funded committees. Few creative class capabilities are being harnessed by the Quaero consortium:

  1. No user base from which to test different ideas - Google's beta servers trial thousands of solutions every year, to see what internet users like best
  2. Rigid top-down, rational, central design innovation - as opposed to a darwinian test of many ideas from many, diverse and independent contributors
  3. No strong online marketing capability amongst partners and institutes- specially viral marketing - (they do not even own the quaero.com domain)
  4. Ultra-centralized development - opposite of linux style distributed development
  5. No Open Source technical or marketing support - as the development is secret and centralized; the worldwide hacker community responsible for free international alternatives, like Linux and Firefox, cannot contribute either technically or marketing
    Open Sourcing should be the ONLY way forward for this project, given its public funding
  6. Political wranglings amongst the 25 institutions competing for the public funding
  7. French nationalist overtones - thanks to Jacques Chirac trumpeting of the European identity - bad marketing
  8. Public funding Euros have little business potency relative to VC Euros - a proven fact when comparing public and privately funded startups

Loic LeMeur, a top European entrepreneur and strong EU supporter, lists his disappointments with the Quaero project.

Mr Jacques Chirac's project is a snub to European entrepreneurs. If the project had been assigned to a free market, entrepreneurs and VC general partners would create ten times the value with the 500m EUR already spent on this project.

[Via » EUR 400 million to the European search engine Quaero]

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