There’s a lot of buzz going on in social media and PR circles about the launch of Cuil, a new search engine that some claimed would seriously challenge Google. Cuil (rhymes with “cool”) enjoyed a stellar day of publicity, with articles in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, among others.
But the next day, the service got skewered by the pundits and users when it failed to live up to the hype. People ego-surfed their names and other test terms and widely reported the off-base results, which were not up to par with what they’re used to with Google searches. Even the name itself poses problems – forget the difficult pronunciation, a simple typo (culi) takes you straight to a porn site! Check out these headlines:
“Google-Wannabe Cuil: Worst. Launch. Ever.” (Silicon Valley Insider)
“Not So Cuil” (CIO Insight)
“Why Cuil is No Threat to Google” (TIME)
“Cuil shows us how not to launch a search engine” (CNET)
Lessons learned: spend more time in “beta” and concentrate on building a core base of users and reviewers as you refine your product and service, and then go for the home run publicity hits after you’ve worked out the bugs.
The PR team had about a day to bask in the glow of its Tier One media coverage – exactly the type of launch publicity every startup asks its PR team to pull off. Now they’re likely spending their days mopping up and looking for ways to counter the negative coverage that has likely turned off a lot of potential users.