I have done tens and tens of product launches in my 15+ years in the software industry, but they always look the same: even with a lot of planning, you end up spending the last night polishing the final details, and sending bunch of emails to your poor team members who’d like nothing but relaxing a bit after having been under pressure for a long time. And the excitement of unveiling something that you have been working on for months or years is (thankfully) always there.
It is therefore my great pleasure to announce the official launch of the Glendor job showcase, developed by one of my clients, Glenbrook Networks. Glenbrook was founded in 2001 with the objective to deliver a next generation search technology, one that would enable the extraction of information in a given vertical market with a high degree of precision. The company has developed over the past four years a unique technology platform that automatically extracts unstructured data from Internet sources (company web sites, online publications, semi-structured feeds,…) and turns them into structured facts that can be aggregated and stored in a database. Unlike standard search engines, theirs are capable of providing precise answers to complex business or temporal queries. The business of the company is currently to license its products and data services to search engines and large information providers, and will include at some point the development of its own vertical search engine(s) in specific markets.
One of the common issues one deals with in the search and information extraction space is that you need to demonstrate, at some scale, the capabilities of your product. It is even worse when you have a platform that can be equally be used in a number of verticals. That’s why we have decided a couple of months ago to develop a vertical search engine showcase – in the jobs market. Why a showcase, and not a beta? Because it does not intend to cover hundreds of thousands of companies, and millions of listings – just enough to prove that the technology delivers on its claim to fame: automatically extracting job listings from “the long tail”, which in the jobs market refers to individual company web sites and local classifieds sites. So the initial scope of the showcase is to extract jobs from hundreds of Bay Area company web sites, local jobs from one major board, and eventually a classifieds site.
Why the jobs vertical market – which is already well served by talented teams ? Because extracting listings from company web sites exercises all aspects of our technology to produce quality, structured results: surface and dynamic web crawling, layout recognition, natural language processing,… And we believe that the “deep web”, guesstimated at 500B+ documents a few years ago, is where the action is going to be: extracting information available behind dynamic forms and DHTML rendering, and delivering high quality results. And this deep web crawling requirement can be found in local search, travel search, fraud detection, etc. – and is a tough nut to crack automatically, mixing AI and search algorithms.
We’ve also strived to build this showcase as a (modest) Web 2.0 application: we deliver search results through RSS, and we map job listings onto Google Maps. Yep, a first in the jobs listings space – for a few days or weeks, now that the API has been released we expect that most of the players in the space will add that cool functionality (our engineers built this application without the API). And we have a couple of other things up our sleeves that we will be rolling out in the coming weeks.
So enough said: have a go at the jobs showcase, make sure to try the mapping of jobs (and play with the zoom), do let us know if you find any issues, and give us your feedback. We also have a blog that will talk about the showcase and the typical challenges one is facing in developing a vertical search engine. It will also relay interesting news related to the development of the vertical search industry – which is booming, if you consider that Vertical Leap gathered almost 300 people for its first edition last week.
And congratulations to the Glenbrook team for this great work.
Update: Glenbrook Networks, and its Deep Web trawling technology, have
been featured in the San Jose Mercury News. Read about it here.