Powerset de-cloaking (and hiring too)

— February 9, 2007 at 20:08 PST

Today is a big news day for my company, Powerset. We have started to disclose information about our formerly super-sekrit technology, and today there are articles about us in the New York Times and VentureBeat. There's also a bit on TechCrunch, a bunch of Diggs, and Technorati shows another minor blogstorm brewing.

So what's the big deal? The executive summary is that we obtained an exclusive license to best-of-breed NLP (Natural Language Processing) technology that has been developed at Xerox PARC over the last 30 years, and many of the creators of that technology have either come to work at Powerset or will be working with us while at PARC. I know that people are right to be skeptical about the kinds of claims we have been making, but perhaps this will go a ways toward showing that we aren't all hype. We're not just based on a good idea that only takes a couple years to bring to market - we've got some serious technology that can't be duplicated in less than a decade of effort, and we know what we're doing with it.

Our founders have a few good posts today. Our COO Steve Newcomb (not to be confused with the other Newcomb writing about us today) has a nice piece on Be David when facing Goliath, our Product Architect Lorenzo Thione discusses Powerset and PARC join forces to revolutionize search. I'm sure our CEO Barney Pell will have a post at some point, but it will probably require surgical removal of the phone that has been grafted to his ear before he has a few minutes to write one.

The other cool thing is that today we finally have our job openings online, and they include several positions for Rails and Ruby developers. Check these out:

So far Powerset has four Ruby/Rails developers. There's me, of course, and also Kevin Clark of ARTS and Heckle fame. Next week we will be joined by Tom Werner, creator of Gravatar, and Chris Van Pelt. I can't say enough good things about working at Powerset, and we're in love with Rails for building our internal tools. And there are some other things brewing I'll be talking about as soon as I can. If you are a Rails wizard or master of Ruby and want to be part of an amazing team, this is the place to be.

5 commentsbiz, jobs, news, parc, powerset, sightings

  1. Michael Air2007-02-10 01:28:29

    You say about loving rails for building your internal tools. Is there any reason (that you can talk about) why you're not using rails for external facing stuff?

  2. Patrick Lafleur2007-02-10 01:42:29

    I wish you the best of luck in your venture!

  3. Josh Susser2007-02-10 03:01:28

    Michael: We don't have any external stuff yet, that's why. Actually, if you look at what a search front-end application has to do, there is little or no MVC to it. Basically all it needs to do is collect a query in a form and pass it off to the back end, then format and render the results. There's no data to store, barely any state or control flow to manage, and only a handful of views. Rails is all about building MVC applications, so it's not a good fit for a search front-end. That's not to say we absolutely wouldnt use Ruby for the search front end or even use Rails for other customer-facing products, but it's too soon to talk about that.

  4. bryanl2007-02-10 13:08:12

    Congratulations on all of your successes so far. Any team with you and Kevin will be a great one.

  5. Mark Aufflick2007-02-13 05:41:39

    Sounds fun! I think powerset sounds like some pretty funky stuff :) I have been known to ruminate about AI and search on occasion, and even once pinged Barney (Pell) on LinkedIn - so powerset has been in my thoughts for a while.

    Good luck with it all.

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