“The Goal Is to Be the Best Search Engine for You”
There’s a lot of buzz around You.com, a search engine that lets users ask questions through a chat interface. The answers come from an artificial intelligence system based on OpenAI’s ChatGPT – which has caused a stir in tech and business for its ability to produce articles, essays and even computer code seemingly written by humans.
At DLD23, the company’s founder and CEO, Richard Socher, took time for an in-depth backstage interview to speak about You.com’s novel approach to search, how the search engine is combining privacy with convenience and where he aims to take the company next. Watch the video right here. Below are some takeaways.
How can a startup compete with Google, which has a global market share of more than 90 percent? “I got a lot of feedback from friends and investors and others saying it’s kind of crazy, Google is unbeatable”, Socher admits.
But he sees a big opportunity in bringing together information from different sources, and allowing users to customize their search experience. Socher’s solution is to open up You.com to other companies, which can offer apps right on the search engine’s homepage.
“If someone is searching for how to book a flight, then the Expedia app could come up, and you just book a flight right there”, Socher explains.
You.com will earn a commission in such cases, but Socher emphasizes that it’s entirely up to users to decide what they see or don’t see. “You have control over your information diet, he says. “Being on that first page is extremely convenient for users [and] we never want to fight convenience.”
“We’re going to wow people with a new kind of large language model that’s going to be much, much more useful than anything we’ve seen so far.”
The app that’s been driving interest in You.com is called YouChat, which answers like a person rather than offer a list of links. Ask, “What’s the most successful film of all time?” and it will reply, “The most successful film of all time is Avatar (2009), which has grossed about $2.9 billion at the box office.”
In many cases, the system works well, but the chat bot can also make up information – or “hallucinate”, as AI researchers like Socher call it.
“We’re still working on that, and maybe adding confidence meters and things like that”, the You.com founder promises. For now, it’s a good idea to look for citations – links to the sources of information – which indicate what the answer is based on, Socher explains.
Already, You.com is seeing steep growth from implementing the AI chat, Socher says. “But we’re going to make it better in the next few weeks. We’re going to wow people, I think, quite a bit with a new kind of large language model that’s going to be much, much more useful than anything we’ve seen so far.”
The chat function is also key to meeting Socher’s objective: “For now, the goal is to be the best search engine for you”, he says. “To make you very productive, to help you save time, help you save your privacy, to put you back into control.”