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Asoundingly the core of Exaleads technology is based on a very old concept: Cow9. Cow9 was once offered through AltaVista, first under the name LiveTopics, later called Refine.
Cow9 was a collaboration between Digital Equipment and François Bourdoncle of Ecole des Mines de Paris.
Bourdoncle is founder and boss of Exalead.
Exalead seems excellently equipped for the specific requirements of merging directory and websearch by means of on the fly generated topics.
Very good results. Very fast. Great engine IMO.
French search revolution - Exalead at AOL [webmasterworld.com]
If they can fix up their algos a bit, I believe this could be a great engine. The layout of the results is very cool. Great for keyword mining too.
I see a lot of ODP-type category results listed underneath some sites. I wonder if this is where a large part of their spidering comes from?