Genspark Joins the AI-Powered Search Engine Race

A new AI-powered search engine, Genspark, has emerged, and its creators believe it outshines the numerous alternatives available.

Genspark utilizes generative AI to craft custom summaries in response to search queries. For example, when you type in, “What’s the best baby formula for newborns?” Genspark generates a Sparkpage: a single-page overview compiled from various websites and content across the web.

This experience is notably similar to Arc browser’s Arc Search feature, launched earlier this year, and Google’s AI Overviews in Google Search. However, Eric Jing, who co-founded Genspark with Kay Zhu in 2023, asserts that Genspark provides higher-quality results by adopting a more precise and targeted approach.

Jing said, “Genspark uses multiple specialized AI models, each designed to tackle specific types of queries. Sparkpages are much like a distillation and consolidation of the current web; we also enrich these with comprehensive data, and to users, it looks like an index to the existing web.”

Behind the scenes, Genspark uses a blend of in-house and third-party models from OpenAI, Anthropic, and others. These models classify users’ search queries and decide how best to organize and present the results. Each results page starts with a brief AI-generated summary, followed by a link to a detailed Sparkpage for comprehensive information.

brief AI-generated summary

Let’s take an example for travel-related searches where Genspark generates a Wikipedia-like Sparkpage featuring a table of contents, videos of popular nearby destinations, tips, and a chatbot to answer specific questions such as “List the best cultural experiences.” For product searches, Genspark produces Sparkpages that include a pros-and-cons list of the product, along with aggregated comments and reviews from social media, publications, and e-commerce stores.

“Our AI models favor webpages with high authority and popularity, which does a lot to filter out the more ‘out there’ information,” said Jing.

Much has been written about the mishaps of AI-generated overviews. Google’s AI Overviews notoriously suggested putting glue on a pizza, Arc Search erroneously informed a reporter that cut-off toes would eventually grow back, and Perplexity lifted articles from CNBC, Bloomberg, and Forbes without proper attribution.

Has Genspark resolved all safety and accuracy issues? Not entirely.

While Genspark didn’t suggest making a glue pizza, claim health benefits for running with scissors, or falsely state that former U.S. president Barack Obama practices Islam, it did make some troubling recommendations, including suggesting weapons that could be used to harm someone.

Genspark suggestions
Image Credits: Genspark

Ethically questionable search results aren’t the only problem Genspark is dealing with. Platforms like Genspark also risk diverting traffic from the original content sources they rely on.

This impact is already evident. A study found that AI Overviews could reduce publisher traffic by about 25% due to the diminished focus on web page links. Financially, an expert quoted by The New York Post estimated that AI-generated summaries could cost publishers over $2 billion in lost ad revenue.

While we didn’t find blatant examples of plagiarism on Genspark, that doesn’t mean they’re absent. Similar to Wikipedia pages, Sparkpages are dynamic. Once Genspark’s AI generates the initial outline, users can share and edit these pages, potentially inserting offensive, inaccurate, or plagiarized content.

Moreover, there is currently no mechanism to report problematic Sparkpages.

Jing explains that Sparkpages are designed to be editable to allow users to verify and correct information. Genspark’s AI systems incorporate these edits to enhance future results. He also mentions that Genspark plans to license copyrighted content, including publisher material, to improve the overall accuracy of the platform.

“We take data quality seriously, and we believe data quality is the key to win this race. Respect for intellectual property is a core value.” said Jing.

Genspark social media comments
Image Credits: Genspark

The specifics of how much Genspark will pay for intellectual property are still being determined. Similarly, Genspark’s business model is not yet finalized, though Jing mentions that the platform will eventually introduce “premium features,” details of which are still up in the air.

Despite being in the early stages of development and facing significant technical, legal, and ethical challenges, Genspark successfully closed a substantial seed round. The startup raised $60 million, led by Singapore-based VC firm Lanchi Ventures, achieving a post-money valuation of $260 million.

Jui Tan, managing partner at Lanchi Ventures, described Genspark’s approach as “genuinely compelling” and expressed confidence in Jing’s and Zhu’s technical direction, citing their prior experiences in building AI and search products.

Jing previously served as a development manager on Microsoft’s Bing team and as chief product manager in Baidu’s core search and AI divisions. Zhu, with a background in search at Google and Baidu, teamed up with Jing four years ago to launch Xiaodu, a hardware startup creating Amazon Echo-like smart devices.

Tan said, “Eric and Kay are seasoned serial entrepreneurs with a proven track record of developing successful products and businesses, particularly in the AI and search domains. Their team’s extensive experience positions them uniquely to drive groundbreaking innovations.”

However, I believe Genspark faces a daunting challenge. Even if Genspark manages to resolve its technological hurdles, establish a profitable business model, and scale its small team based in Singapore and the Bay Area—none of which are simple tasks—it will encounter fierce competition from well-funded rivals with hundreds of millions of dollars in backing, not to mention entrenched giants like Google.

So, can Genspark navigate the negative perceptions and past failures that have plagued other attempts at AI-powered search engines? Can it carve out a niche in the future where competitors like OpenAI might launch similar tools? Many seem skeptical, but Jing remains steadfast in his belief that Genspark can succeed.

Jing said in a statement, “Many internet users, especially those who are younger than Google, do not want to just be given a list of links and then left to figure out the rest for themselves, all while navigating sponsored content and SEO-driven content that games the system,” He continued, “They want to find what they need faster, they want more visual results and they want to know that the results are trustworthy. With AI, we can achieve all of that, and we have launched Genspark to meet those needs.”