Richard Socher, the founder of You.com, is aware that his business has always been a David battling Google and, to a lesser extent, Microsoft for supremacy in the search market. He likes to point out that his business developed search based on generative AI in December, well in advance of the announcements made by the other major players in the search market.
The business announced today that it will use multimodal search to build on that head start. In order to provide a more precise response, it can therefore add elements that go beyond text. Therefore, if you ask, “Which company has the most CRM market share?” you will receive the response “Salesforce,” and if you then ask, “What is Saleforce’s stock price?” you will receive a stock chart rather than a text-based response.
According to Socher, that represents a significant advancement for chat-based search and puts his business ahead of much bigger rivals. According to Socher, “we’ll just show you our stock app right there inside the conversation, instead of making up a bunch of numbers, as every other language model would do,” he told.
According to him, that is a much more useful way to respond to that kind of question, and depending on the situation, other questions can also benefit from using these various modalities. Large language models becoming multimodal in the sense that the various modalities include text, but also code, but also tables, and also graphs and images and interactive elements – and sometimes that is the best way to answer your question – is a significant advancement. I genuinely think that this is a better way than any text could be to illustrate the response to this query.
You.com was established at the tail end of 2020 on the premise that there was a need for a new search engine with a stronger AI foundation. The search market has caught up with that idea, but Socher believes there is room for a novel strategy that the established players cannot provide.
He wants You.com to be the anti-Google, as he stated during his company’s $25 million funding round last summer:
“Google is a monolithic, monopolistic search engine that is closed and has ultimately weaponized AI against users for the sake of serving its true purpose: advertising. We are building You.com as a search platform that is open and emphasizes directly serving user needs with You.com apps instead of bombarding people with ads,” he told Kyle Wiggers at the time.”
Socher is hesitant to talk about the technology behind his company’s search at the moment out of fear that his competitors will use it against him, but he has promised that he will reveal the secret sauce he is using to build his company’s search solution at some point.
There’s a lot of information about how we made it that we can’t really talk about right now. I’m sure a lot of people are wondering what methods we’re using to construct all this. However, there are numerous attempts to mimic our success. It doesn’t make sense to share all of our technology or even high level or detailed information on how we’re doing any of it until we’re at least default live or profitable as a startup,” he said.
The monthly growth rate, he claims, is in the double digits, and the company now sees millions of unique visitors per day. Though they haven’t settled on a business model just yet, it won’t be a search engine like Google or Bing.
We can get by without making $500,000,000 per day. As a young company, we aren’t under any such pressure at the moment. However, he promised that this year would see the team “think about monetisation and try to explore different paths.” They could allow third-party developers access to the platform in order to create apps like the stock app, which displays a stock chart, as well as run private advertisements and sell subscriptions to various add-ons, such as the one they currently offer to help users write essays and blog posts for a couple of dollars per week.
“You can let that third-party app just sell a service, and if it’s relevant to the user and the user wants to buy whatever that company sells, then we get a percentage of that. Essentially, he explained, it’s a form of “end-funnel monetization” as opposed to the “top-of-funnel monetization” that ads typically employ.
He’s well aware of the stiff competition he faces, but he’s confident that You.com can stand out from the crowd.
As he put it, “it’s certainly a tough space to compete in, to say the least, and you need to build something that is both unique and different, but at the same time good enough to capture most of the things that people currently want from their search engine.”
That’s exactly what we’ve done, and it’s a big reason why we’re expanding and giving you a new take on what a search engine can and should do for you.