Cuil: Disruption, Disrupted


Google rival Cuil needs to rebound from its heavily-bashed launch last week. There are signs of hope, but it won't be easy. It had all the makings of a great story. A team of former Googlers uniting to challenge their old employer. A search engine that promised better results than the darling of the search world. A David versus Goliath tale for the tech world.

And then Cuil actually launched. Media and bloggers panned the new offering, with many explaining just how bad the search results were. (My colleague Eric Chabrow, too, wasn't exactly impressed when he searched his own name on Cuil.)

Maybe Cuil shouldn't have launched so quickly, one PR exec suggested. Maybe the whole development process was poorly managed.

But the less-than-stellar launch shouldn't come as a surprise. Most new companies challenging strong incumbents face uphill climbs, Scott Anthony notes in his Harvard Business blog. Anthony wrote two entries on Cuil, the first introducing the idea that Google is well equipped to combat the challenge, and the second (written with Michael Putz, a business development and strategy director at Cisco) explaining just how difficult successful disruption is.

What do you think of Cuil? And what lessons does it teach you about product development and project management?