Preparing to relaunch, Jelly wants to bring “humanity” back to search


There has always been a sense that a human could provide a more accurate or more nuanced answer than a index-based search engine. But none of the efforts to build a human-powered alternative have thus far succeeded.

Whether you want to call them “social search,” “help engines,” “Q&A sites,” “answer engines” or “advice engines,” there have been more than a dozen attempts over the past seven or eight years to improve upon the familiar Google experience and bring humans more directly into the mix. To name only a few: Yahoo Answers,, Askville (Amazon), ChaCha, Facebook Questions, Keen, Rewarder, Quora and Vark.

Many are gone, though some still exist. Jelly, from Twitter Co-Founder Biz Stone, was among them. Announced as a “new way to search,” Jelly launched in 2014 and met largely the same fate as most of the others on the list. However Jelly is coming back.

Danny-Biz SXSW

Photo credit: Andrea Joliet

In a blog post yesterday, Stone teased his session with Danny Sullivan today at SXSW at Jelly in general:

Jelly Industries, Inc writes code and builds technology. Five of our eight employees are top notch engineers. We are a tech startup. We’ve recently built a little AI, a unique routing algorithm, some natural language processing, and made use of so many other technologies. But Jelly doesn’t search the web. It finds you the person with the answer you need.

Jelly is the only search engine in the world with an attitude, an opinion, and the experience to back it up. Only Jelly can say you asked the wrong question, provide answers you didn’t think to ask, and deliver a thoughtful answer to your anonymous query. Jelly is humanity presented as software. Search as we know it now is 20 years old.

This sounds quite similar to statements made at the original launch of Jelly but we’ll have to wait and see how the new app differs from the old. Some of that emerged from the session, where Stone explained things like:

  • Jelly is designed to route questions to those it believes are experts or have strong knowledge in certain areas.
  • The new version which is in a closed beta will open to the public slowly in the coming weeks on the web.
  • By the end of April, it’s expected the mobile version will open to the public.
  • There are no specifics on how to earn money off the service, but Stone said he expects a model will emerge.
  • The system won’t show the names of those asking questions, to help reassure people about asking anything.

For more, here are some of the tweets from Sullivan’s interview of Stone:

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