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Anyone -- not just Google -- could create a directory to replace DMOZ. Many people have claimed on WMW that it would be easy to do.
Just think .... to equal DMOZ in size you need 4.5 million unique listings. Assume it takes you an average of 10 minutes per accepted site to review [that includes all management overhead and time to review sites you don't accept, so may be on the low side]
That's just 750,000 working hours, or around 4,000 people working for a year. At minimum US wage, there's change out of USD5 million to buy the hardware and get a logo designed.
The pay-off. if you create something better than DMOZ then surely Google would use it. Their links back to you would give you dozens of pages with pagerank 8 and over. That's worth USD5 million a year to anyone, surely.
Of course Google could replace Dmoz if the company so wished. They have more money than they know what to do with. But their interest is focused on algorithmic search.
But you could save money by doing it overseas where labor costs may be 1/5th of US minimum wage.
Plus I did factor in some overheads by assuming the whole time needed for the average site is 10 minutes. that would include re-reviews and recategorisations.
That alone could be a driving force in making sites far more accessible: it would reduce the average initial review time down to about 3 minutes -- any site that couldn't convince an editor of its worth in that time would just have to wait for DMOZ.