Upstart Blekko has secured $30 million in new funding to drive its vision of junk-free search engine results. Half of that amount comes from Yandex, the biggest search engine in Russia, which also will be providing some strategic technology infrastructure support. Yandex CEO Arkady Volozh will join Blekko’s board as part of the deal.
The other new investor in the round is the Australia-based MLC Private Equity, while returning investors include U.S. Venture Partners, CMEA Capital and PivotNorth Capital.
Aligning with a search engine that’s more popular than Google in the world’s eighth-largest country is obviously a significant development for Blekko. The landscape is littered with startups that failed at toppling Google, but this influx of money and clout could make a real difference.
“We love Blekko and think it’s a great product – a quality search engine that organically combines search algorithms with expert opinions,” Volozh said. “We believe the outlook for this approach is strong and that the blekko team is poised to make it a success.”
Blekko’s marketing director Stephen Burns posted the news on the company’s blog. “Our history with Yandex started at a conference in Moscow earlier this year where our CTO Greg [Lindahl ] as speaking. Several more meetings and two trips to Moscow later – these guys do their homework – we had a new investor,” he wrote. “If their investment in this round isn’t one of the best endorsements of Blekko and our mission, I don’t know what is.”
The company intends to remove spam, content farms, malware and other junk from search results. It does this with what it calls slashtags, a system that limits searches to sites that others have deemed useful and trustworthy. These slashtags are created internally at Blekko, and individual users can create their own slashtags as well.
Blekko gives the example of searching for authoritative information on diabetes: by entering diabetes /health, the search returns results only from sources like nih.gov, cdc.gov, webmd.com, and more. What the company says won’t show up are things like shady pharmaceutical dealers, content farm articles saying not to eat sugar, and the conspiracy theories that seem to accompany every major disease.
Search Engine Land – http://tinyurl.com/3b9uyb6
Associated Press – http://tinyurl.com/3q2p375
Photo by flickr user jonathanb1989, used under Creative Commons license