If you can't be Larry Page and Sergey Brin, why not try being Martha Stewart? That's Jason Calacanis's new plan. (We think he'd look absolutely fetching in an apron, too.) Less than two months after he launched his search engine, Calacanis has shifted strategies, emphasizing how-to content on the so-called "human powered search engine."
It may be a wise move, since how-to content is popular online. Indeed, a guide on booking a cheap hotel room got Mahalo on the "popular" page for social-bookmarking site Del.icio.us, the first time it's garnered such an honor.
But for the voluble serial entrepreneur, it's an embarrassing about-face from his original plan. When he launched Mahalo, he distinguished his offering from previous attempts like About.com by writing, "They are tapping citizens to write content about what they're passionate about — we're trying to index all the passionate information on the Web." In other words, Mahalo would "curate" links to helpful pages on the Web, not create content itself.
He further told search expert John Battelle, "You will see they are trying to answer the questions and we're trying to help you find the people who can answer the question. Both are valuable, but my feeling is that the world doesn't need Mahalo to answer questions for them."
Mahalo, clearly, is now in the business of answering questions. So perhaps we'll find the answer to this one on the site: Jason, when are you going to admit how badly your original idea for Mahalo flopped?