WordCruncher, which claims to be the best search technology you’ve probably never heard of, has found another way to gets its technology in front of the public, by reversing into a shell company and going public on Nasdaq’s over-the-counter market. At the start of this year WordCruncher held an audacious auction, whereby it placed ads […]
WordCruncher, which claims to be the best search technology you’ve probably never heard of, has found another way to gets its technology in front of the public, by reversing into a shell company and going public on Nasdaq’s over-the-counter market. At the start of this year WordCruncher held an audacious auction, whereby it placed ads in trade magazines boasting that On Groundhog Day, all but One of the Following Web Engines Will Become Obsolete, and then listed the common search engines. The Alpine, Utah-based company faxed offers to about 40 of the top technology companies, including the likes of Microsoft and Cisco Systems, offering its technology for sale. None of them took the bait, but, says chairman James Johnston, a bunch of Texan venture capitalists did make an offer, which the company thought too little and refused. Nevertheless, the whole auction exercise worked out quite well, he says and provided the company with publicity and relationships with analysts and potential customers. They are potential because despite the company name, WordCruncher has not got an internet/intranet product ready yet, in fact it has only just started development on the internet version and it will not be released until next spring. WordCruncher has a proprietary search engine that has been used in academia and publishing for a decade. The main differentiator is that it displays the results of searches in context, by which it means that whereas search engines currently display the results of searches as a series of links, WordCruncher displays the text surrounding the search engine. So if the information is contained in a word document, it won’t display it in Word format, but it will display the text. It also has other benefits, says Johnston, such as its neighbor feature that enables users to search on one word and get a list of words that crop up adjacent to it, click on of those and it will show all instances of those two words next to each other. WordCruncher has had that sort of technology working on standalone computers for years, using its proprietary viewer to view the results and has produced a specific version for email packages called Whew!, although that will probably change as nobody knows how to pronounce it, says Johnston. Versions for Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Express, Eudora 3.0 and 4.0 and Netscape mail are available, although the company admits it is having to tinker with the Eudora version that hits some problems when users have more than 8,000 messages. Digital Equipment Corp, nee Compaq’s AltaVista unit has a standalone version of its search technology, but Johnston says that still just offers links. But the internet is where it’s clearly at and that is going to take some work. The company, which employs a dozen people right now, is recruiting people with search technology expertise. Johnston expects the alpha to be ready before the end of the year, the beta in the winter and the final version next spring. He says the company is likely to offer the product as both a WordCruncher-branded product and as an OEM version. WordCruncher is being used in academic publishing and can search multiple languages already, including Chinese, Japanese, Hebrew and eastern European languages, as well as English. It is being used in such efforts as transcribing the Dead Sea Scrolls, the transcripts of the international war crimes trials in The Hague, project Titus in Germany, attempting to understand ancient languages and IKS at the University of Bonn, which is working with the original texts of 18th century philosopher Immanuel Kant. It remains to be seen whether or not WordCruncher can raise itself above the smog of the search engine market, which has already moved on a few notches from search technology being the major selling point. The company WordCruncher revered into via a stock swap was Dunamis Inc, a Nevada corporation.