Backed by a group of investors with impressive track records, Jason Calacanis has launched Mahalo into alpha stage – a search engine that does not rely on computers to scan the Web and does not use sophisticated algorithms to pull up meaningful results. Mahalo, which in Hawaiian means Thank You, relies on about 40 employees to track down the best responses to some of the Web's most repeated requests. The findings are boiled down to a series of lists pointing to the most helpful Web sites. Calacanis believes typical web search engines have too many irrelevant sites because marketing consultants and mischief makers have learned how to trick the machine-driven algorithms. The site is starting with just 4,000 Web pages. Although Calacanis hopes to add about 500 additional pages per week, and is aiming to address the Web's 10,000 most popular search terms, at that rate it will never reach close to the number of sites competitors "manage".
"When we have the results (to a query), it's going to be 10 times better than Google or Yahoo," boasted Calacanis. Mahalo hopes to eventually make money from selling ads alongside its search results, although Calacanis says he already has secured enough financing to last four or five years without turning a profit. He declined to provide how much money he has raised. Mahalo's list of investors includes: Sequoia Capital's Michael Moritz, who backed both Yahoo and Google; Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who became a billionaire after selling Broadcast.com to Yahoo during the dot-com boom; AOL Vice Chairman Ted Leonsis, who also owns the National Hockey League's Washington Capitals; and Elon Musk, co-founder of online payment service PayPal Inc.