Algolia is a U.S. startup company offering a web search product through a SaaS (software as a service) model.

Company

Algolia was founded in 2012 by Nicholas Dessainge and Julien Lemoine, whom are originally from Paris, France. It was originally a company focused on offline search on mobile phones. Later it was selected to be part of Y Combinator's Winter 2014 class.

Starting with two data centres in Europe and the US, Algolia opened a third centre in Singapore in March 2014, and has now expanded to 47 locations across 15 worldwide regions. It serves over 1,600 customers, handling 12 billion user queries per month. Those customers are among [e-commerce], medium and additional fields, including DC Shoes, Medium and vevo. In May 2015, Algolia received 18.3 million dollars in a series A investment from a financial group led by Accel Partners. Since June 2016, the usage of Algolia by small websites is increasing profoundly.

Products and Technology

The Algolia model provides search as a service, offering web search across a client's website using an externally hosted search engine. Although in-site search has long been available from general web search providers such as Google, this is typically done as a subset of general web searching. The search engine crawls or spiders the web at large, including the client site, and then offers search features restricted to only that target site. This is a large and complex task, available only to large organisations at the scale of Google or Microsoft.

Algolia's product only indexes their clients' sites and so the search task is far simpler. Data for the client site is pushed from the client to Algolia via a RESTful JSON API, then the search box is added simply to the client's web pages. This search model is intended to give the performance and sophistication advantages of a full in-house search engine operating on the native web site back-end database, but with the simplicity of setup of using a site-restricted Google search.

Products

Algolia claims a number of advantages for their approach, including speed of response from searching a single site rather than the entire web. Moreover, as Algolia's search can be tailored to the client site, its known structure and its metadata facets, the search offered can be smarter and more site-specific than a generalised web text search. This improves the relevance of search results as searching might take the semantics of site content into account. A web site selling both puppies and dog clutches could avoid the search confusions and homonymy that bedevil the simple text-based search approaches.

Algolia emphasise on their ability to provide instantaneous, multi-platform and typo-tolerant features. Though Algolia's software is closed source, they engage in open source community to an extent. Some new and interesting products emerge from their community port . Two examples are Algolia Place and Algolia Document.

API

Algolia provides their search service via various APIs. the Rest API provides basic features of search, analysis and monitoring. There are 10 supported languages and platforms for client usage. Supported languages include Python, Ruby, PHP, JavaScript, Java, Go, C#, Scala. Two mobile platforms, iOS, Android, are additionally supported. For better web usage, Algolia can be additionally integrated with four frameworks: Ruby on Rails, Symphony, Django and Laravel. For user interface, Algolia has a few UI libraries options to choose from.

Besides these products, Algolia additionally has integration with various additional open sourc and third-party software, including wordpress, Magento and so on.

Infrastructure

Algolia documented an attempt to remove any single point of failure in the architecture and proposed a worldwide infrastructure called Distributed Search Network to efficiently reply to a search query from any location.

The DSN feature allows to set the locations in Algolia's network where the data should be duplicated. The API and queries are routed from the end-user’s browser or mobile application to the closest location in the network. This set up reduces latency for end users and improves availability for searches.

Competitors