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|Headquarters||Santa Monica, California, USA|
|Key people||Jason Calacanis, Founding CEO. |
Elliot C.R. Cook: COO
|Revenue||Unknown, Startup May 2007|
|Slogan||"We're here to help."|
|Type of site||Web directory|
|Launched||May 30, 2007|
|Current status||beta test|
Mahalo.com is a web directory (or human search engine) and knowledge exchange (question and answer site) launched in alpha test in May 2007 by Jason Calacanis. As of January 2008, the project is in beta test. It differentiates itself from algorithmic search engines like Google and Ask.com, as well as other directory sites like DMOZ and Yahoo by tracking and building hand-crafted result sets for many of the currently popular search terms. Mahalo means "thank you" in Hawaiian.
Mahalo's directory employs human editors to review websites and write search engine results pages that include text listings, as well as other media, such as photos and video. Each Mahalo search results page includes links to the top seven sites, as well as other categorized information, and additional web pages from Google. The company also pays freelancers to create pages for piecework compensation in the Mahalo Greenhouse - the pages are approved by a full time staff member prior to appearing in the main index.
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Mahalo started with the top 4,000 search terms in popular categories like travel, entertainment, cars, food, health care and sports and was adding about 500 more terms per week with the goal of covering the top 10,000 by the end of 2007. This goal was been exceeded when, in December 2007, Mahalo announced that its index has reached 25,000 pages, a year earlier than it was expected.
Mahalo also offers "how to" guides offering instructions on popular topics in an editorial fashion. Mahalo will deliver results for less popular searches from Google.
Search results quality
Mahalo's goal is to improve search results by eliminating search spam from low-quality websites, such as those that have excessive advertising, distribute malware, or engage in phishing scams. Webmasters have a vested interest in seeing their sites listed. Calacanis has said that algorithmic search engines, like Google and Yahoo, suffer from manipulation by search engine optimization practitioners. Mahalo's reliance on human editors is intended to avoid this problem, producing search results that are more relevant to the user.
Veronica Belmont was hired by Mahalo.com to produce a daily video show for the site. Her first video was an interview with Leeroy Jenkins. Belmont left Mahalo Daily in 2008 to co-host the Revision3 series Tekzilla.
After a month-long search, Belmont's replacement was announced on June 5, 2008. Former cable sports show host Leah D'Emilio won Mahalo Vlog Idol and co-hosted the show with Mahalo.com employee Lon Harris until leaving the show in March 2009.
On December 15, 2008, Mahalo launched a new service called Mahalo Answers. The service is similar to Yahoo! Answers in that it allows users to pose questions regarding a wide variety of subjects, and those questions will be answered by other users. A key difference between the two services is that Mahalo Answers allows questioners to give a monetary reward (called a "tip" on the site) to the user who provides the most helpful response.  Tips are paid using "Mahalo dollars," which are bought using PayPal, and, once earned, can then either be used to tip other users or be cashed in at a 75% exchange rate.
Jim Lanzone, CEO of Ask.com said, "Just like a lot of people who watch movies think they can be scriptwriters, there are a lot of people who use search engines who think they can build a search engine." Lanzone cited the fact that about 60% of search inquiries to Ask are unique as just one of the challenges of running a search engine. Google claims that 20% to 25% of its search inquiries have never been used before.
At the SMX Conference in June 2007, Google software engineer Matt Cutts explained that while he supports different approaches to search, like Mahalo, it is untrue that humans have nothing to do with Google's search results. As examples of human involvement he cited Google's use of hyperlink analysis, toolbar voting, and user reporting of spam. Cutts suggested that Google would evolve to take advantage of social media.
Ownership and funding
Lead investors in Mahalo.com include Sequoia Capital's Michael Moritz, an early investor in both Google and Yahoo; Elon Musk, founder of PayPal; and News Corporation. Other disclosed investors include Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and AOL chairman Ted Leonsis Jason Calacanis has said that he has enough funding to run Mahalo for four or five years without making a profit. Mahalo eventually hopes to make a profit by selling ads next to search results.
Traffic and growth
Mahalo has experienced significant growth since it was launched in May 2007. Mahalo.com traffic has increased from roughly ten thousand visitors a month in July 2007, to two million visitors a month in January 2008.  After six months of flat traffic in 2008 the site continued to grow. The site is currently verified to have broken nine million unique visitors according to Quantcast, making it approximately the 200th largest site in the United States. On October 22, 2008, Calacanis announced that he was laying off 10 percent of Mahalo's employees (2 persons) due to the economic downturn.  Conflicting reports suggest that the percentage of employees let go was much higher, with reports stating that it was a third of staff.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 "People Power Fuels New Search Engine". sfgate.com. May 30, 2007. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2007/05/30/financial/f150126D41.DTL&type=business. Retrieved 2007-06-04.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "Start-Up Adds a Human Touch". Wall Street Journal. May 31, 2007. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB118056234795419124.html?mod=googlenews_wsj. Retrieved 2007-06-04.
- ↑ CommsDay | The Home of the CommsDay Family of Newsletters and Events
- ↑ Mahalo Greenhouse
- ↑ Mahalo breaks 25000 pages and announces creative commons license
- ↑ Mahalo releases social search service
- ↑ "New search engine adds human touch to info gathering". mercurynews.com. June 4, 2007. http://www.mercurynews.com/business/ci_6056012?nclick_check=1. Retrieved 2007-06-04.
- ↑ Needleman, Rafe (2008-12-15). "Mahalo expands human-powered search with paid Answers service". CNET. http://news.cnet.com/8301-17939_109-10122762-2.html. Retrieved 2008-12-15.
- ↑ Snyder, Chris (2008-12-15). "Mahalo Answers Pays Cash for Your Two Cents". ABC News. http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/AheadoftheCurve/story?id=6464889&page=1. Retrieved 2008-12-15.
- ↑ "You&A With Matt Cutts". Search Engine Roundtable. June 4, 2007. http://www.seroundtable.com/archives/013699.html. Retrieved 2007-06-04.
- ↑ "Mahalo Press Release". mahalo.com (primary source). May 30, 2007. http://www.mahalo.com/Mahalo_PR. Retrieved 2007-06-30.
- ↑ "Adios Magellan, Looksmart, Mahalo, whatever your name is". vcratings.thedealblogs.com. May 31, 2007. http://vcratings.thedealblogs.com/2007/05/adios_magellan_looksmart_mahal.php. Retrieved 2007-06-04.
- ↑ "Human power at heart of new Web search site". contracostatimes.com. http://www.contracostatimes.com/business/ci_6052104. Retrieved 2007-06-04.
- ↑ SnapShot of Mahalo.com Compete.com Retrieved on 2008-02-23.
- ↑ Tough times, hard decisions - The Jason Calacanis Weblog Retrieved on 2009-11-29
- ↑ Silicon Alley Insider - Jason Calacanis Mahalo Fires a Third of Its US Staff Retrieved on 2008-10-25