There’s a great West Wing quote: “If they’re shooting at you, you must be doing something right.”
Cuil– pronounced “Cool” – a new startup that just came out of Stealth yesterday – went from virtual obscurity to hot Google-killer to just-another-Web 2.0-bubble-startup in less than 24 hours. It came out, had massive coverage, was billed as “the largest search engine on the internet,” and within 24 hours has been weighed, measured, and found wanting. You can even watch as Tech Crunch’s posts on the startup go from “coming out of stealth” (how cool) to “visionary founders” (sounds promising) to “Google killer to Google’s lunch” (not particularly awe-inspiring). I have to admit I’m a bit excited myself – I have a good friend who has been working at Cuil. And, to him and to the rest of their team, with regard to today’s hype cycle, all I can tell you is that, when you’re a startup, when you’re a mid-sized private company, when you’re pretty much anyone except the 900 pound gorilla with it’s stockholders and it’s board of directors, I’d say the best you can hope for is to get some coverage – any coverage. In fact, I do plenty of work for the 900 pound gorilla that even we can’t get coverage of. It’s difficult to break through the noise and become blog-worthy let alone mass-media-worthy. Additionally, the blogosphere is highly critical, and not bound by the same rules about objectivity as the mass media.
So all I can say to the team at Cuil is “hats off to you” for doing something at least interesting – even if the product apparently is getting terrible reviews. Today there is less lock-in than ever before, people have infinite choice, and all that matters is having the best product. They may hate you, but if you do something they care about, if you do something that users recognize is adding value, they’ll come back. So ignore these blog posts and keep building.