Searchme—the visual search engine which has raised $31 million from investors including Sequoia Capital—is changing strategies. It plans to lay off 35 of its 45 employees, take its site offline for the time being (it now redirects to Google), and refocus its technology in the broadband TV market, according to TechCrunch.
In an e-mail to TechCrunch, CEO Randy Adams said the company wasn’t able to raise $50 million in funding it needed to expand the distribution of its search engine. The site’s traffic had dropped rather dramatically in recent months, according to Compete.com (We’ve also reached out to Adams).
When the search engine—which let users see screenshots of results rather than lists of links—launched in private beta last March, Adams said the company had no allusions that it was a Google-killer: “We are no Google (NSDQ: GOOG), of course, but we are trying something different to provide a new experience for search users, he told AllThingsD. Most of all, we are trying to innovate in search, which is still largely a text and list experience.”
Searchme’s struggles, however, once again demonstrate the difficulty that startups have had competing in the search space against the big players that dominate the market. Searchme joins a long list of much-hyped new search engines that later posted poor numbers or had to switch strategies. In his e-mail, Adams hints at some of the inherent issues, including the high cost of servers and distribution deals.
By Joseph Tartakoff