LeapFish.com: It’s a funny name for a potentially useful new metasearch tool. LeapFish launched the public beta of its search platform in November 2008 and has just introduced a new click-free search interface for the "multi-dimensional search engine that combines the best of the web in a single search." The new upgrade allows users to search for items in real time—as each character is added, the page updates the results according to relevance, without forcing the user to click a button or refresh the page. The search engine extracts a variety of data from major online destinations such as Google, YouTube, eBay, and others in a single search query and then provides "a fast, fluid, and dynamic search experience." LeapFish claims to have more comprehensive results than those of its providers.
"This technology is truly evolutionary in the context of today’s internet," says Behnam Behrouzi, the 27-year-old president and CEO of LeapFish. "Desirable data continues to be lost at an accelerating rate due to the information overload and filter failure of search engines. The LeapFish click-free search functionality and aggregation capability offers users a convenient solution for users to maintain control over this data."
Behrouzi, a serial entrepreneur, explains the advantages of LeapFish this way. "If relevancy, the currently defined search formula, continues to be limited by the virtual real estate allotted by page 1 of the major search engines, then the variety and accessibility of the breadth of the web is being lost in the information overload," says Behrouzi. "LeapFish works to capture this variety in a new multidimensional, and now instantaneous, click-free search interface."
Currently, LeapFish aggregates and organizes content from many portals—YouTube.com videos, blogs, news websites, photos, and more—with a single search on one page. The search box seeks to reassure visitors, "It’s ok, you’re not cheating on Google." It even claims to learn a user’s habits. The company says the "revolutionary new search service uses proprietary hyper-threading technology to communicate with a growing list of over 200 online authorities, currently under development, to deliver more than just relevancy to users." The site says it uses technologies similar to those found at major portals such as DogPile.com.
While it might be similar to other portals, it does offer some nice bells and whistles and does surface some interesting resources. Search widgets display up-to-the-minute news, images, videos, and more on every search term. Click "see more" under a search widget and get a complete list of relevant results. If you hover over a video, you can view it on LeapFish without navigating away. If you hover over an image thumbnail, you will immediately see the actual image. It is also very fast at returning results.
In a telephone briefing, Behrouzi said that the site was criticized at its launch in November on the TechCrunch blog for not offering anything novel. (The blog post was titled "LeapFish Launches Another Meta Search Engine No One Will Ever Use.") Behrouzi said the company pushed up its development cycle and hopes to prove TechCrunch wrong. With this new release "we’ve added the cool factor—we’ve made it exciting and fun."
In the future, Behrouzi says LeapFish.com will offer customizable widgets and a way for users to easily create dashboard pages. He writes in his MaxStartup blog: "LeapFish is building a customizable interface that allows users to determine what online authorities they want in their version of the search engine. Want an engine designed specifically for real estate related searches? You can build it with LeapFish Dashboard set to be released in 2009."
Will the oddly-named search engine have a chance against Google and the other better-known metasearch options? Is the cool factor enough to pull in users? LeapFish is banking on the attraction of what it says are its key advantages—convenience, aggregation, and simplicity.
Scott Duke Harris, writing for The Mercury News (www.mercurynews.com/ci_11465546?IADID), says, "To your correspondent, a frequent googler, the elimination of the search button seemed of dubious value. But a comparison of LeapFish to Search.com., Dogpile, Clusty and Zuula revealed a substantially more intriguing homepage. While the others tend to have the Spartan, simple look of Google, LeapFish also features recent news and windows of videos."
An interesting bit of history emerged from the LeapFish blog (http://blog.leapfish.com). According to a post, LeapFish was first created 5 years ago as a free domain-name appraisal tool. A young internet enthusiast in the military created LeapFish in his spare time allowing people to discover the value of their domain name. But the site staggered from the load of traffic and gradually disappeared until Behrouzi acquired the LeapFish brand. In mid-December 2008, LeapFish responded with a completely new, revamped and more accurate free domain-name appraisal tool. Sure enough, if you try a search like google.com, you’ll see a link to "see what this domain appraised for." FWIW …
LeapFish, Inc. is currently a privately held corporation headquartered in Pleasanton, Calif. The company is backed by its parent DotNext, Inc. (www.dotnextinc.com), which is also funded by Behrouzi, who previously co-founded Reply.com (at age 20). Behrouzi says the company is looking for Series A investments in 2009.