Presearch, a new start-up that uses a tokenized business model to provide a better than free search experience says about 500 million searches have been undertaken in over a year.
One million people have signed up to the platform, with 100 million Presearch tokens (PRE) given out so far according to Colin Pape (pictured), Presearch founder who previously launched community commerce platform ShopCity.
Right now much is at the very early stages. The front-page for example allows you to choose your search provider, say Google, with it then actually redirecting you to Google.
Your ability to choose a search provider from Presearch, say Etherscan or Linkedin, is the main functionality so far, with ambitions to gradually develop their own decentralized search engine as we detailed back in 2017 when they raised about $7 million in bitcoin, eth and fiat.
Users receive 0.25 PRE tokens per search, which is about a penny with a PRE token currently worth about 4 cent. That’s up to 8 PRE a day, or 32 searches. Then you can keep searching, but not in a better than free way.
Such tokens are meant to be funded by taking a cut from advertisers, with plans to also gradually open source many aspects to form a community around the project.
They’ve now launched a browser extension compatible with Chrome, Firefox, and Brave. So we caught up with Colin Pape to learn how the project has developed now that it has reached 1 million users.
When did the search engine launch?
Pape: We started making it available in the summer of 2018, but haven’t officially announced it. Only those who happen to see it in Telegram, or who end up noticing it in the list of providers are aware of it.
And when did the front-page launch?
November 9th, 2017 in closed beta until April 9th, 2018. Then we launched the ability for anyone to sign up.
Any time estimate of when it will be open sourced and when ads launch?
Alpha ads are already live, but we have a beta that will be released in the next month or so.
Packages are open sourced, but we’ll continue to open up the rest of the platform throughout the year.
How many PRE has been given out so far for searches?
Approximately 100m PRE, but that includes PRE that is not eligible for withdrawal [minimum withdrawal is 1,000 PRE], and PRE that has been forfeited due to violation of the terms.
100m PRE has been given to people searching? So there have been 400 million searches?
Yes, there have been more than 500m searches. Not all searches are compensated.
How many searches on the engine?
The number to the engine is much lower. We still have not made it the default provider, nor have we officially announced it…
A ballpark is 1m searches. There is no tracking on the actual engine, only on the rewards/incentive/provider platform.
Was curious about the alpha ads, where are they showing?
Alpha ads are going to show up alongside the ‘coin flip’ that comes when you search from the address bar.
They’ll then be displayed on the engine results, and on the results page with all of the providers. We see that there’s a really significant staking opportunity to determine ad positioning, and eventually staking could be used as a way to fight spam in the engine.
If you do a search on the engine for bitcoin, you’ll see an example of a community package at the top of the results page…
Community members are currently working on maps, weather, sports scores and a bunch more.
The engine you said is like DuckDuckGo, but wasn’t this meant to be the internal tool used at ShopCity?
It was originally conceived as a way to direct your query to a number of different resources. Basically, a federated search field. I was referring to it as ‘the Switzerland of search.’
That is why the actual engine is not directly integrated into the rewards platform. We want to keep them separate and have the engine just be another resource so that we can level the playing field for all search providers.
And how are community members working on what you mentioned?
There aren’t a ton of community members working on it at the moment – maybe a dozen or so, but we haven’t put out the call in a big way yet.
So this isn’t quite a Google competitor then?
It could be eventually, yes. It’s a pretty ambitious mission.
I was reading this. Has the plan changed from that?
No, not really – the plan is still pretty much the same. We’ve re-prioritized a little to focus on monetization due to us being HODLers and the bear market, but overall, still on track and heading to the same destination.
So that says the engine would be the internal tool used at ShopCity, while you stated it is basically DuckDuckGo.
Just re-read that, and it’s a little awkwardly stated… Presearch started as a tool used internally by ShopCity.com employees. It was really not something for local businesses… The two concepts have kind of been mashed up…
The current alpha is leveraging the same APIs as DDG, Ecosia and others while we develop a way to implement a decentralized index.
We are still exploring the potential tech to build a functional decentralized search index, which is certainly not trivial. We’re considering using EOS, Steem, Nebulas and other blockchains, but are still in the due diligence phase.
So what’s the point of going to Presearch to then be sent to Google instead of just going to Google?
You earn PRE tokens. You can also direct your query to different resources, which saves time and is more convenient.
For instance, I direct my eth address queries to Etherscan, I can search my internal customer database, I search my contacts through LinkedIn, etc.
Rather than bookmarking those sites and pulling them up, then searching their search field, I just type my query, click the logo for the destination site, and off I go.
So I suppose that’s the main selling point rather than creating your own better search engine?
Yeah, right now, the main value is earning crypto when you search, and being able to customize your own search engine.
In time, it’ll shift more to the fact that it’s an open, community-driven search resource, and hopefully, with many people working on it, it could actually provide a better general search experience through the engine than Google.
How far do you think you are in building a functional decentralized search index?
We are still in the early phases. As we outlined in the whitepaper, the approach was to see if we could actually get users to shift their searches away from Google by incentivizing them with tokens, while we develop proofs of concept on the tech side in the background. The goal is to ship a substantial proof of concept before the end of the year.
A decentralized search index sounds a bit like rocket science, with the site for now being more of a portal where you can choose what provider you’d like to search on, something which perhaps might be useful if you’re on mobile.
It then has it’s own search engine as well, but that’s more sort of a clone rather than using its own open sourced ranking algorithms and all the rest.
The latter would be far more interesting because searches on Google do at time fall short of expectation. The idea, however, is to clone and then re-iterate until eventually they can stand on their own two feet and claim their search is better.
Whether they can reach that stage, remains to be seen, but 1 million users in a year is at the rate Facebook grew in its early days.
Facebook, however, did not re-direct people to MySpace, so there’s quite a big difference. But, we might be seeing some validation of the token business model. If it can sustain itself after the early days, then we might perhaps learn you can beat free with token incentives.