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May 11, 2008

Powerset launched today!

Sunday 5/11/2008: Powerset has launched our first open product to the world!
Our initial product offers users a whole new way to experience Wikipedia and Freebase content, based on our unique natural language understanding technology.
Powerset Homepage

A write-up about Powersets Wikipedia product is available on the Powerset blog.
I will write more over the next few days about the product and it’s role in the ecosystem of search, content, linguistics, and semantic technology, but for now I’m just incredibly excited. I’ll just note a couple highlights from the evening.
We were planning to launch at 9pm PST. But in an unusual twist for a software company, one of our eager engineers actually flipped the switch to make everything live 15 minutes ahead of schedule. Since everything was working, we just decided to go with it!
Within the next couple of hours, the first press articles came out. Pretty much across the board, the journalists and bloggers captured the essence of our initial product. They got what was special about it, and also recognized it for the initial step that this represents (finally freeing us of the Google Killer hype that is impossible for a small startup to live up to).
Within 1 hour of launch, we received a note from a VC asking about possible investment in the company.
And 2 hours after we were live, we had our first denial of service attack. An automated script sent a never-ending sequence of bizarre queries at our system. Fortunately, our own engineers had been preparing for this kind of thing already and we managed to stay up and weather the storm.
The whole company was gathered in the office. We spent time alternating between: making speeches and toasts, reading press articles, looking at the traffic and load, and watching the initial queries float by. The last part was the most exciting: real users and real queries!
Since we launched on Sunday night on Mother’s day (thanks, Mom!), we had it pretty easy with relatively light traffic. I think Monday is going to be an exciting day.

Posted by barney at May 11, 2008 11:59 am

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