Whiz kid inventor Bram Cohen and a small cadre of developers and entrepreneurs are in the final stage of launching an advertising-supported search engine dedicated to cataloging and indexing the thousands of movies, music tracks, software programs and other files for download over Cohen’s popular BitTorrent protocol.
The free search tool will be the first large-scale commercial offering from BitTorrent, a five-person company headed by Cohen that so far has drawn most of its revenue from T-shirt sales and PayPal donations.
The ranked search results will be accompanied by sponsored links provided through a partnership with Oakland, California, company Ask Jeeves, says Ashwin Navin, BitTorrent’s chief operating officer. BitTorrent will make money from each clickthrough. “Ask Jeeves syndicates our advertising products to many different sites, and BitTorrent will be one of them,” confirmed Ask Jeeves spokeswoman Darcy Cobb.
Navin demonstrated the service for Wired News last week at BitTorrent’s temporary headquarters, a small, one-room San Francisco office shared with Navin’s last venture, an import/export firm called GSI Group. Surrounded by pallets of imported playing cards and poker chips, Navin fired up a browser on his laptop and typed “Mozilla” into the BitTorrent search box. The search quickly produced a site offering torrents for the free browser.
The search engine is expected to go live within two weeks, according to Navin, who is moving to the Bay Area from Bellevue, Washington. It will live on BitTorrent, the website from which Cohen distributes the open-source software that has changed the way netizens distribute and connect with content online.