Search engines are not racist but if you go to the typical portal and put in a word like dance or baseball, you have to go pages deep into the results before anything about African Americans shows up. In fact, it may not show up at all unless you specifically type in “black” or “African American.”
At Rushmoredrive.com, a new search engine with an Afro-centric twist, the first page of a search typically yields information about African Americans, and that is a deliberate result.
“We crawled the world wide web to find all things black, and we elevated the black results for the first couple of pages,” explained Johnny Taylor Jr., CEO and founder of the search engine company.
Rushmoredrive.com is not intended to provide users with just black results, but instead prioritizes those findings so that they come up early in the search rather than later.
“I was working at IAC (Interactive Corporation) which owns Ticketmaster, the Home Shopping Network, (and other companies), and I could never find what I was looking for,” explained Taylor, who is a lawyer by training but headed the company’s human resources department. “I wondered why I had to go to page 50 to find something relevant to me. I’m sure I’m like most people, and if I can’t find something in the first three pages I abandon the search.”
That frustration led Taylor to wonder, if he could build a better mouse trap–a search engine that would give black people everything they could get at places like Google, but the Afro-centric content would be upfront.
After one year of intensive research by a staff of 35 people, Rushmoredrive.com was launched on April 10 of this year.
And it was a hit . . . literally. According to Taylor at the end of the engine’s second full month of operations, 770,000 unique visitors had used the search engine making it one of the largest launches of a site–black or white–in history
“The key now for us is we have to get our community to use it,” said Taylor, who estimates that there are at least 50 million black people in America.
“If even 10 percent of us went online and used it, it would be one of the top search engines,” said Taylor, who uses the figure 50 million because he said using the word “black” instead of African American pulls in people of African descent from the Caribbean, Latin America and other areas of the world who consider themselves of African descent but do not answer to the term African American.
In addition to providing search assistance, the site offers news content of interest to people of African descent, and there is also a robust job listing and search function.
In October, the search engine will launch an online business directory. Taylor said entrepreneurs can list their company address, phone number and directions on the site at no charge. They can also post videos and create links to their web sites.
This directory will serve the dual function of driving more users to the search engine and give Taylor’s company clout with potential advertisers.
“It hasn’t been a tough sell at all,” said Rushmoredrive’s CEO. “The funny thing about it, the advertises have been looking for somewhere to advertise on a non-sports, non-entertainment gossip site to advertise with.”
Rushmoredrive.com fits the bill, believes Taylor, who said creating the search engine was not a cheap endeavor. Backed financially by his former employer, Taylor would not give exact figures, but agreed that start-up cost were in excess of $1 million.