Quaero? Good question.

French mega-blogger Loic Le Meur is making a point. He sees 10 reasons why the French search engine will fail. If you’re not in the loop: Quaero is a very French search engine project, with some kind of a German appendix. It’s (jointly?) run (?) by nimble startups like France Télécom, Thomson, Siemens AG and Thales. The basic idea seems to be transfer about 250 Million Euros in governement funding into the koffers of companies who will not even notice this windfall whilst delivering after five years of major league researching a multimedia search engine, which at least will be able to deliver what BBN’s Podzinger can deliver right now (audio to text) and then some.

But let’s get back to Loic’s points:

1- Can’t spell it.
Stupid names are not a problem. (QED: Colloquially, a sap is a weak or gullible person. Also known as dupe; see confidence trick.) Not owning the domain, either (prevents you from trying to trademark the hard to spell project name).

2- Centralized.
There are no centralized projects on the web that succeed. I know what you mean. But, of course, some exceptions do apply. Most notably: Google, Yahoo, eBay …

3- Secret versus beta.
Somtimes, I think, it’s time for web based beta blockers. Because mostly it’s smoke screening. Look at Google. Services like Froogle are/deserve to be in endless beta. But the secret project (world domination by abducting top software engineers into the Googleplex, introducing them to a 2 month brainwash and then …) is still, well: secret. I guess.

4- No buzz, no adoption.
Wait, Loic. We’re talking 5 year plans here. Quaero doesn’t need any buzz right now (well, we’re buzzing here …) as there’s not even a need yet for a domain for the service we cannot spell as the real product is only supposed to be ready in about 5 years.

5- A galaxy of actors who compete to get the subventions and don’t get much noticed for their latest web innovations
Yes, now it’s getting scary. It’s a powerful roster of partners. But if you want to build the prototype of the car for the mid 21st century, you probably wouldn’t start with talks to Nestlé.

6- Not really international.
‘scuse me. How about Google, Yahoo and the likes? Setting up a sales office in Hamburg, Paris or Munich doesn’t make you an international company. And not being really international is obviuosly not a recipe for disaster.

7- A neverending story.
Quaero has been announced as a 5 years project when Google is only barely 8 years old, where will Google be in 5 years when Quaero is finally launched ?
See. It’s not neverending. The life expectancy is exactly five years.

8- Not enough euros.
Outsmarting beats outspending. (Correction: would beat.) In it’s humble beginnings, Google didn’t bath in billions. So in theory, Quaero should have a chance.

9- Subventions euros are not worth venture capital euros.
Uhm, the source of the money is not the problem (in Latin: non olet). The question is: where to put it. VCs and the government share one thing: they’re all about other people’s money. But any VC betting 250 Million EUR to seed a company trying to beat a superrich global market leader with an unproven concept would immediately be awarded with the Nick Leeson Medal in gold.

10- Google is a thousand startups
[…] How many european startups could the Government help launch if these 250 M€ were invested in them ?

And that’s the point. Instead of playing the hare and the hedgehog, they launched a hare-brained single shot.
Why not open source Quaero and engage all individuals who would like to challenge Google’s position ? If the aim is to have an alternative and successful search engine, that it probably the way to go. It’s certainly not by trying to create centralized “multi-heads missiles” in a decentralized World where building communities matter more than the Country they originated from.

Exactly. Or why not seed 250+ search start-ups whilst offering the current Quaero partner a purchase option. Because, it’s a bit like Loic’s ten points. Most of the arguments are somewhat offleading (sez me). But in the end, he delivers his shot.

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