Irish search service HeyStaks to disrupt web search world

14 Jan 2011

New search service HeyStaks aims to make mainstream search engines like Google, Yahoo! and Bing more social. The University College Dublin spin-out also hopes to hire 14 engineers by the end of 2011 and to create 40 jobs by 2013.

HeyStaks Technologies allows searchers to collaborate with friends and colleagues as they search for information online, improving the productivity of the average searcher by up to 50pc, it claims.

HeyStaks, which recently recently secured €1m in venture funding from The Ulster Bank Diageo Venture Fund, has opened its Dublin office at NovaUCD, as well as a San Francisco base.

Recruiting engineers

It is currently recruiting engineers for its Dublin office and plans to grow to 14 people within the coming months, with plans for 40 jobs by 2013.

“It’s been a hectic few months since we raised our funding. We’ve been hiring engineers in Dublin, set up our office in San Francisco and put the final touches on HeyStaks. We make mainstream search engines, like Google and Bing, more social,” says Dr Maurice Coyle, HeyStaks co-founder and vice-president, product development.

Here’s how he says HeyStaks will work: say HeyStaks users are planning a skiing holiday with friends. They can create their own ‘skiing search stak’ as a type of folder for their searches. They can do this through Google or Bing or Yahoo! and when they search for ski-related information, HeyStaks will find the pages they like in this stak.

Coyle says if they share this stak with friends then their ski-related searches are also remembered by HeyStaks.

“As the search stak grows, when they search on Google or Bing or Yahoo!, they will start to receive recommendations from HeyStaks of the ski-related pages that their friends have recently found during their searches.”


Eyeing up hot new web search service HeyStaks: Dr Maurice Coyle and Dr Peter Briggs, HeyStaks Technologies

Making search more efficient

Dr Peter Briggs, HeyStaks co-founder and vice-president, engineering, adds: “We can all do with a little more help when we search and we are making search more efficient by allowing people to share their search experiences with others.

“Our beta users tell us that these recommendations are often much more relevant than the default results from Google, Bing or Yahoo! because they come from people you know and trust. And best of all, HeyStaks works with your favourite search engine so you don’t have to change your search habits to benefit.”

HeyStaks apps for Firefox, iPhone, iPod touch and the iPad

The company is also launching HeyStaks apps for Firefox, iPhone, iPod touch and the iPad today.

“This is just the beginning and we are very excited about how we can change the world of web search by making it more social and more collaborative,” said Jonathan Dillon, HeyStaks’ San Francisco-based CEO, who was previously a vice-president at Yahoo!.

HeyStaks is based on technology developed as part of the research group of Prof Barry Smyth and the CLARITY Centre for Sensor Web Technologies, a Science Foundation Ireland-funded research centre between University College Dublin, Dublin City University and Tyndall National Institute.

Smyth has had previous success in commercialising technology, having co-founded ChangingWorlds. He played an intrinsic role in growing the company to about 150 employees before it was acquired by Amdocs for US$60m in 2008.

“Today’s launch is a big step for us. We believe that HeyStaks represents a huge opportunity to disrupt the world of web search and we are calling on people to try out the service and let us know what they think. It’s free, it’s easy to use, and it’s incredibly useful. If you spend a lot of time searching, then HeyStaks is for you,” says Smyth.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic