Microsoft has confirmed its $100 million purchase of Powerset, the overhyped search engine whose buzz flared and fizzled last year. Cofounder Barney Pell, whom investors pushed out of his CEO seat last November, amid rumors of a top-level love triangle, may not last long after the deal. Consider the faint praise Microsoft offers for him:
We're buying Powerset first and foremost because we're impressed with the people there. Powerset CTO and cofounder Barney Pell is a visionary and incredible evangelist. When he introduced our senior engineers to some of the most senior people at Powerset — Search engineers and computational linguists like Tim Converse, Chad Walters, Scott Prevost, Lorenzo Thione, and Ron Kaplan — we came away impressed by their smarts, their experience, their passion for search, and a shared vision.
Calling someone a "visionary" and "evangelist" is code for "lacking any real skills." Note how Pell gets credit only for introducing the real brains of Powerset's operations, not for "smarts" or "experience." While Microsoft's purchase of Powerset had me doubting their acumen, this deftly coded Pell-dissing blog post makes me think someone up in Redmond has a few neurons firing in the right sequence.