SAN FRANCISCO – Does surfing the Web exhaust — and even exasperate — older people? The backers of Cranky.com are betting on it.
Cranky is a specialty search engine designed to please aging baby boomers by processing every request from the perspective of someone who is at least 50 years old.
This steadily growing demographic often feels overwhelmed using high-powered search engines from the likes of Google Inc. (GOOG) and Yahoo Inc. (YHOO) because they spew out more results than older eyes care to see, said Jeff Taylor, the Cranky mastermind who previously struck it rich as the founder of online employment site Monster.com (MNST).
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"Our research found that people 50 and over are confused about searching on the Web," said Taylor, who runs Eons, a Boston-based startup devoted to creating products aimed at the graying baby-boom generation born from 1946 through 1964. "It's hard for them to understand all the results."
Launched earlier this week, Cranky is trying to simplify things by showing just four Web sites in the non-advertising section of each results page and making the sparser listings more relevant to its target audience.
Google and Yahoo, by comparison, usually list at least 10 sites per results page.
Like the mainstream search engines, Cranky hopes to make money selling targeted advertising alongside its search results. Cranky's ads will be provided by InterActiveCorp's Ask.com, a search engine that has been around for a decade.
After teaming up with Internet research firm Compete Inc. to identify the 500,000 most popular Web sites among people at least 45 years old, Cranky dispatched reviewers to dig even deeper into the top 5,000 destinations.
The reviewers then wrote descriptions about the content and tried to ensure the index contained more direct links to the most meaningful information.
At 46, Taylor technically isn't old enough to be using Cranky.com yet.
But he could have easily retired by now. When he left Monster in August 2005, Taylor had already made at least $33 million cashing in his stock options in the site's parent company, Monster Worldwide Inc.
Taylor isn't expecting Cranky to be an overnight success.
"By the time I get it right," he said, "I probably will be 50."