LookSmart had a string of acquisitions that were so close to being successful, but never made it for one reason or another: WiseNut, Net Nanny, Furl, Zeal, Primary Knowledge, Grub and probably others I’m not thinking of. Well now, Grub has been sold by LS to Jimmy Wales’ Wikia search project. Out of curiosity, anybody know the price tag?
When Grub was acquired many of us at LookSmart thought it was a clever idea but it didn’t belong at LS. As a company known at that time for squeezing out advertising dollars to the detriment of the product, why would a group of public volunteers allow their machines to be used for a distributed web crawl? Why exactly? They didn’t. I can’t remember the numbers; I know there was a small community of users, but it was small. A slightly different path happened to Zeal. A great idea for a community built directory that wasn’t supported by the company because it didn’t bring in enough advertising dollars and so was squeezed out.
Recently I’m not even sure if Grub was still in action at all; and if it was, what was happening to the crawled collection of pages? Were they being fed to WiseNut? Beats me.
Anyhow, I’m glad that Grub, which is a cool idea, is on to what I hope will be greener pastures. It seems to fit well with the idea of open source search.