In 2009, an upstart tech company, Cuil, went after one of the biggest fish in the tech ocean, Google.
Cuil CEO Tom Costello recruited a team that included former Google employees and, $33 million in VC funding in hand, claimed to have indexed more pages than any other search engine (120 billion pages at the time) and could serve up that data faster than its competitors.
By September 2010, Cuil (which was pronounced "cool") was no more than a footnote in the history of the Internet, with its servers shut down for good.
Its fatal flaw? To put it bluntly: It sucked.
In the days leading up to its launch, the company kept tech writers and reviewers in the dark, offering no early peeks or beta tests. When the world finally did get a crack at Cuil, they found a service that
fell far short
of its own hype. Search results were erratic and often mismatches.
An attempt to salvage the technology led to the launch of Cpedia, billed as the world's first "automated encyclopedia." A cross between a search engine and Wikipedia, it too earned the scorn of users and blistering reviews, many of which focused on the indecipherable gibberish its mish-mash of combined results served up.