Why I left AOL Search

I started at AOL Search almost 3 years ago, hoping to be part of the turn around story, taking AOL to the Web and integrating search consequently. ... I was also thinking no one would single-handedly hold responsible if AOL missed a step.

I spent most of the past decade planning and building search experiences from developing the first SafeSearch application in 1994 with InterGO to crawling and parsing applications with Microsoft in 1996, then Altavista, Infospace and AOL.

I was realistic. After IAC acquired Ask, I knew there was no room for AOL Search to rank among the top 3 players in the traditional search category. Personal technology categories, from desktop operating systems to browsers and productivity apps have traditionally had enough room for two leaders and a third rotating player. I also knew the search ecosystem was heading for fragmentation. Crawling, indexing, computational linguistic and managing consumer media experiences definitely don’t require the same core competencies. Given the rise of social networking, broadband penetration, the explosion of consumer generated content and the emergence of awesome technologies re-inventing user interaction models. I also knew that AOL on the Web still had a unique opportunity to reclaim its historical online community fame and core competency.

I thought AOL had a unique opportunity to repositions itself as a Discovery Engine, taking the lead on becoming the leader of an emerging new social search category. FullView was the base for exactly that. Social search is This is just what my team focused on after integrating Search capabilities and optimizing revenue across the Network including the AOL portals, Email apps, MapQuest, Netscape and more to reach about 110 million UVs.

In May, the new AOL management team - probably rightfully when considering corporate strategic goals - decided to copy and paste the Google experience to gain some level of business parity. I always knew that was a possibility while evangelizing social search as a differentiation factor and stuck around to the end. Let Semantic Search technology, Social Search, and Sentiment analysis strive.

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Anonymous said...

It's ironic, ain't it, that the week after AOL launched its Google clone that Google changed their product to something much closer to AOL's FullView with Google Universal Search.

Mike Dierken said...

Where are you heading now?