Vivísimo, a company built on unique Web search technology developed by Carnegie Mellon University researchers, recently celebrated its fifth anniversary with the grand opening of its new headquarters in the Squirrel Hill section of Pittsburgh, a mile up the road from campus.
Vivisimo's key products are meta-search engines that quickly and automatically group clusters of information gathered from the Web for more easy access and understanding.
The event, which was celebrated in Vivísimo's new office on the corner of Forbes St. and Murray Avenue, was attended by Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy, Honorary French Consul Jean-Pierre Collet, Innovation Works CEO Rich Lunak, Carnegie Mellon University President Jared Cohon, and dignitaries.
Mayor Murphy issued a declaration proclaiming June 28 "Vivísimo Day" in the city of Pittsburgh, while Congressman Mike Doyle sent congratulations and Honorary French Consul Collet presented the co-founders with a replica of the key to the Bastille to, as he put it, "open the door to a successful operation."
Vivísimo also donated the use of its Web-searching tool, dubbed Clusty, to the city of Pittsburgh Web site, at www.cityofpittsburgh.net. This makes Pittsburgh the first city on the country to have this search engine available to citizens on their website. "It's our city, and we decided we should give something back," said Vivisimo Chief Executive Officer Raul Valdes-Perez, who is also an adjunct associate professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon.
"Through the development of cutting-edge applications that help make people and organizations smarter and more productive, Vivísimo has helped to enhance Pittsburgh's image as a technology leader and hub for innovation," said Mayor Murphy. "In addition, Vivísimo's commitment to diversity and local talent, civic contributions and dedication to the workforce and economic development serves as a model for other Pittsburgh-based companies."
Vivísimo was co-founded at Carnegie Mellon in 1999 by Valdes-Perez, along with Chief Scientist Jerome Pesenti (a visiting scientist at Carnegie Mellon) and Chief Technology Officer Chris Palmer (a current Ph.D. student at Carnegie Mellon). Vivísimo software queries various search engines, extracts relevant documents, groups them based on this summarized information and finally displays them in hierarchical categories. Valdes-Perez has compared his company's quest to bring a sense of order and productivity to information on the Internet to the way that the Dewey Decimal system produced order in offices and libraries.
"Vivísimo's greatest feature is its uncanny ability to track down what you're looking for," said Yahoo Internet Life in 2004. "Dare we dub it the best new search service on the web? Categorically, yes."
The company currently has 25 employees, but the new office can hold 50-100. The space is needed considering the 400-500 percent growth the company is expected to see in 2005.
"I can't believe I can walk 10 steps without bouncing into a wall or somebody else," joked Valdes-Perez at the ceremony, referring to the company's more cramped former quarters.
The technology for Vivísimo, which means very lively and clever in Spanish, is based on a specially developed algorithm which clusters textual documents by extracting and grouping the relevant information by subject. The output is a clear and hierarchical folder structure, allowing users to avoid link overload and to click only on the specific category of information that they need.
Vivísimo released its own commercial Internet search engine, Clusty.com, last fall, and it quickly garnered rave reviews. About six months ago the company licensed their technology to AOL.com, where about five percent of all web searches are conducted. It was named one of Time Magazine's Coolest 50 Websites of 2005, and has received glowing reviews in numerous print media.
"When Vivísimo was founded five years ago, we set off with the ambitious goal of changing how the online world finds and navigates information, and I feel we are moving closer to that goal every day," said Valdes-Perez. "Along the way we have cultivated a strong team and a growing company that has become firmly imprinted on the Pittsburgh business community. We are honored by the Mayor's proclamation and are looking forward to years of community contributions and rapid growth."