Across the street from the entrance to the Arts et Metiers Museum, where two of three of Paris’ Statue of Liberty replicas lie, Nicolas Dessaigne welcomes me into the office that he moved into at the beginning of this year. Dessaigne is the cofounder & CEO of Algolia, alongside CTO & Cofounder Julien Lemoine, and in just 3 years they have become France’s Google.
Before they raised Silicon Valley-level rounds of funding from US & European investors, before they were accepted into YCombinator and opened their San Francisco Office, before they invented the concept of a DSN (Distributed Search Network), and before they announced their $18.3 Million round of funding from Accel Partners, I sat down with Lemoine & Dessaigne in 2012 in advance of a pitch competition, and they explained how they planned to make search not suck…on mobile. They quickly pivoted out of a mobile-focus when they realized that database search was a major pain, so much so that Elastic Search, an open-source technology that powers database search, has soared to become a major standard for product search.
Today, Algolia delivers search results in under 10 milliseconds. To the human eye, that’s instantaneous – it’s also faster than anything else on the market. Not only do they deliver fast results, they deliver smart results: results that autocorrect your terrible spelling of “Jsutin Beiber”, and they deliver relevant results, all customizable by the website owners.
Algolia has taken steps to insure a 99.99% SLA, although Dessaigne says they push for 100% – every customer has their data stored on three different servers, coming from three different hosting providers. In addition, after a DNS issue caused issues for 24 hours (DNS updates can take 24 hours, depending on settings), Algolia now runs everything through two DNS’ – the first, which leverages their distributed search network and figures out where the best place to send your search query is, and a second, just in case the first one goes down.
It’s no surprised that Algolia powers search on sites like Crunchbase & ProductHunt – they are essentially databases with a front-end – however, Algolia now powers search on clients like Medium, A littler market (acquired by Etsy), Periscope (that’s Twitter, folks), Genius.com & more.
Algolia’s on a war path to building a global search business, and their founders are graduates of France’s #1 Search Startup, Exalead, a project born out of the Alta Vista search project.
It seems all too obvious to say that Algolia will be the next Google – Algolia does Search, Google does Search. However, in the new, apps-based Internet, users are seeing their Internet increasingly fragmented, and Algolia has created a solution that reaches to wherever you are – on mobile, on the web, on your watch, wherever. Today, Algolia grabs no user data (other than that which is given to the client website), they serve no ads, and they are often invisible; however, make no mistake: they are Google’s #1 threat to their core business. If users don’t have to go to Google to search “ProductHunt Email Tools,” but trust the internal search of every product they use, then Search transitions from “search for the right website for my needs” to “Search for the right thing within the product I already have.”
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