Narrow Search, Tom Canning, and Eliyon

While I’m going to get into this in more detail in an upcoming article, unbelievers in the merits of narrow search should have a closer look at Eliyon Technologies and some functionality the company has exposed on its front page.

Just for fun, think of someone — or some company — and search for them using the form at the bottom of the page. For example, while we could so something easy, like searching for me, let’s test Eliyon with something tougher. “Tom Canning” was an entertaining fellow I used to work with more than a decade ago at Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) in Ottawa, Canada. He left DEC before I did, heading, as I recall, to California. Whatever happened to Tom?

Well, Eliyon can tell you. While a number of “Tom Canning”s pop up, there is one guy about six people down who is at a technology-ish sounding company, so I clicked on him. Et voila: Tom Canning from Ottawa, Canada (check his education). Turns out he left DEC, went to Bluestone Software in San Francisco, which was purchased by Hewlett-Packard, and then went to Curl Corporation, and then Infravio, where Eliyon says he is currently employed as vice-president of sales.

Granted, you could find some of this stuff out in Google, but that’s like saying you can deliver local mail using a tandem dump-truck — there are better ways.

More importantly, the good folks at Eliyon were kind enough last week to offer me a closer look at things, so trust me when I say you can do a lot more with the company’s technology. You can, for example, follow individuals; you can also find people who are connected to other people in whom you are interested, and so on. It’s great stuff for HR recruiters, but also for venture guys and analysts and others. After all, what better way to get the skinny on companies than to hunt down former employees?

This is deep mining of a valuable & narrow data set. The company’s front page says it has 23,161,344 people in its database, and while that is 1/345th the size of Google’s 8-billion item search set, narrow context-sensitive search means that Eliyon knows enough about its hits that Google, not Eliyon, is the search tool that ends up looking a little thin.


  1. Impressive, but their data harvester has a
    ways to go. It seems that their engine needs
    to understand that when a company is acquired
    or changes name that this doesn’t change the
    status of employees from “current” to “past” [1].
    And who can forget that illustrious
    Board Member “Street, Granville”? [2]
    [1] ActiveState was acquired by Sophos in 09/03
    [2] ActiveState/Sophos Canada is at
    580 Granville Street.

  2. Eric — Yes, I had noticed much the same thing. There are spidering errors in the database, and you spotted one prominent example (and I’ve spotted others), but I think it points to how hard the problem is.