Thursday, September 15, 2005

Book Review: "The Search" by John Battelle

Last Friday I was pleasantly surprised to find Amazon box with John Battelle's new book The Search inside waiting for me at home. I preordered it some 5 months ago after I first found out about it while reading John's Searchblog at I met John for the first time at Web 2.0 conference in SF last year and was very impressed by his knowledge of the business of media, technology and search. We talked when we launched early this year which he wrote about on

I just finished reading the book last night and really enjoyed reading it so I thought that I would write my first ever book review on this blog. Here it goes:

This is by far the best book ever written about search engine industry. John has done an awesome job in interviewing and researching all the key people and issues around search engine industry and technology. John himself is not a technologist, as he is the first to admit, but he is a very talented researcher, writer, journalist, and an entrepreneur. He analyzes, with keen insight, the rise of search engine business starting from Webcrawler in 1994 through to Google in 2005. He also delves deep into the underlying algorithms and pay-for-performance click advertising business model that lead to the multibillion dollar businesses of today. I greatly enjoyed reading this book and thought that it was so informative and educational for anyone in search engine industry that I bought 40 copies to give to every single employee at We are still in phase one of search and it will be part of every day life for all Internet users. This is an excellent book not only for people who are in the industry but also those interested in learning about the dynamics of Internet business and impact of search on our society. As an entrepreneur in the search industry, I could not agree more with John on the importance of vertical search engines that will take search to the next level into the future.

What's been happening

First, my apologies for those who may be subcribing to this. As you could tell I don't blog much. Partly, it is that I am not that great of a writer. Partly, it is that I have been pretty busy with my work and family.

I just returned from conference in Las Vegas which was very productive and interesting. One of the highlights of the conference was a fireside chat with Barry Diller of IAC. He has a good dose of skepticism and critical judgement that I think explains his success in entertainment, retail and Internet industry. His view on comparison shopping was pretty interesting but understandable because he is a retailer ( and owns a search engine ( Brian Smith of, who was also at the conference, does a good job of capturing what Barry had to say about comparison shopping sites here:

Oh, by the way, was featured in the Wall Street Journal article titled The Next Generation Price Comparison Shopping yesterday. It was the first time that we were mentioned in WSJ so it was pretty exciting. The traffic at our site spiked as a result of this good article.'s mention in the story reads, "One hassle for online shoppers is that researching and buying products often requires calling up multiple windows on their Web browsers, making it easy to get lost., a Mountain View, Calif., start-up founded by the people who launched the MySimon shopping engine, Michael Yang and Yeogirl Yun, attempts to address this.

Users type a word like "camcorder" and hit one of two buttons, one labeled "shop" and the other labeled "research." They call up either links to Web pages offering information about camcorders or comparative listings to buy them. Users can save the items they're considering so they are displayed on the same page as they research those items. The research includes recent news; parents shopping for strollers, for instance, may learn of a product recall."

And in the print edition, gets top billings in graph listing some comparison shopping sites.

It was pretty exciting day for all of us.

I just finished reading "The Search" by John Battelle which I will review in my next posting.

Thanks for reading all the way to here!

Michael Yang