Ex-Google employees launch rival search engine

New search engine Cuil.com has gone live today, aiming to challenge the dominance of search giants Google.

Former Google workers Tom Costello, Anna Patterson and Russel Power all helped to develop the new site, which claims to index more webpages than the search engine of their former employer.

While Google boasted on its blog last week that it regularly scans a trillion pages, the majority are not listed through their search engine. Google no longer publishes figures for the number of sites they index; the last time they did so was three years ago, when they claimed to catalogue 8.2 billion web pages. Cuil's owners have been keen to advertise the 120 billion webpages listed on their site.

Cuil's results are displayed in a more graphic format than its immediate rivals, Google, Microsoft Live Search and Yahoo search, with images and suggested links forming a key part of the information returned by the engine. Results are also returned with tabs displying related information. Reacting to recent concerns raised over the amount of information about users stored by search engines, Cuil has promised not to retain the search histories or surfing patterns of its users.

The site's unusual name, pronounced 'cool', had a change in spelling before the launch, changing from 'Cuill' to 'Cuil'. The name comes from founder Tom Costello's Celtic heritage; it was derived from a figure in Celtic folklore called Fionn mac Cumhaill.