Two companies recently pitched me on their semantic engines. These are not search engines, which is what most people think. Rather, they are databases and algorithms that hold the structure of language (in both cases, the English language). At the most basic level semantic engines tell you what's synonymous with what. At the advanced end of the spectrum they know how grammatically similar phrases like "take a seat," "take a stand," and "take a lollipop," mean completely different things.
Microsoft has now officially acquired Powerset, a natural language search firm, completing the deal it announced last month.
In a blog posting on Monday, Powerset's Mark Johnson said that integration efforts are already well under way. "This Thursday and Friday, there will be a bunch of folks down from Redmond for a symposium to share details about our respective technologies," Johnson said. "We're excited to learn about everything now available to Powerset in the Live Search stack. We're also excited to share the cool things we've cooked up here at Powerset and start … Read more
It's not a replacement for increasing market share by acquiring Yahoo Search, but it gives Microsoft some differentiated search technology and top engineers for less than $100 million. Ramez Naam, group program manager of Live Search, said the Powersoft negotiations happened in parallel with the Yahoo talks over the last few months. Google and Yahoo may also have been interested in Powerset, but no one is talking.
Whether Microsoft can leapfrog Google over the long term with this semantic engine remains to be seen.
Powerset … Read more
Distributed commenter reputation service SezWho is growing a little bigger Wednesday morning with the acquisition of Tejit, an engine that tracks content around the Web to see how it links up with people, events, places, and more. The tool began as a pet project for creator Indus Khaitan, who wanted to sort through blog content to find who had the most gravitas on any topic or in a certain field.
What does this mean for SezWho? SezWho's founder, Jitendra Gupta, tells me that in the next two to three months users of the add-on reputation system for comments, forums, … Read more
Evri has a new twist on content navigation and discovery. Debuting Wednesday at D6, Evri is not a search engine, according to CEO Neil Roseman, but a "data graph of the Web" that leads to "incremental content engagement."
"What doesn't work well is when you get to other places on the Web," Roseman told me. "We read sentences, extracting the subject, objects and verbs, and map to other content on the Web." Evri uses entity extraction, natural language processing, statistical analysis, and other technologies to create relevant connections based on meaning … Read more
Amid speculation that Microsoft is looking to make an acquisition, Powerset launched a public beta of its Wikipedia search engine. It brings a new, rich semantic dimension via natural language query processing to Wikipedia that greatly improves the search and reading experience.
The company calls it a first step in changing the way users search and consume Web content. "It's a complete shift. You see this and you want to experience all content in this way," Barney Pell, co-founder and CTO of Powerset, told me. "And, as an introduction, it will drive huge investment in semantic … Read more
I asked Barney Pell, Powerset co-founder and CTO, whether there was any truth to a Microsoft-Powerset deal rumors. He said, "No comment," and noted his policy of not commenting on rumors. Microsoft also declined to comment on rumors.
Bringing Powerset, which has no revenue and a tiny user base at this point, into the fold would be spare change for Microsoft compared with spending $45 billion to $50 billion on Yahoo. But, it … Read more