Because of lack of funding, search engine Searchme, which lets you search through visuals of websites, has gone offline this weekend. In an e-mail to Techcrunch CEO Randy Adams said Searchme would be downsizing and refocussing.
Searchme was launched a little over a year ago, in March 2008 and showed a promising start. They were one of the first to go for the 'visual search' approach in which you can see the pages given back as results.
The search engine was originally funded by Sequoia, for about 44 milion dollars (about 31 million euros), which also has a stake in Mahalo.
Randy Adams explained to Techcrunch that Searchme always had expected hard times: "We knew when we started the company that to compete with the likes of Microsoft, Google and Yahoo,it was going to take at least $100 million, half to build the back end across thousands of servers and half to get distribution (maybe more with Microsoft spending $100 million on Bing advertising alone). What we didn’t plan on was the terrible downturn in the economy which made it impossible to raise another $50 million to get distribution."
Searchme never really got the traffic to become a major player in the industry. The 1.8 million unique visitors every month also were mostly US visitors and was mostly generated by paid traffic.
Searhchme is now looking for a new buyer and will in the meanwhile downsize and take another look at the costs of 3.000 servers which account for a million dollars a month. Searchme has taken the site offline for now and redirected the site to Google. If the site will get back online anytime soon is not clear yet.