80Legs, a startup that aggregates CPU cycles and bandwidth to offer companies a Google-like web crawling service on demand, today launched its public beta at the DEMO conference in San Diego. The Houston-based company has raised $400,000 from Creeris Ventures to provide its web crawling service. 80Legs contracts with another Houston-based company funded by its investors to get access to volunteer’s CPU cycles, much like the SETI@home project, in which PC users offer up computer power to search for signals from extraterrestrials. 80Legs partner Plura Processing, which aggregates the cycles, pays affiliates to sign up users to volunteer their idle processing time in exchange for services like virtual gifts. Users can also give up bandwidth, which we wrote about earlier this year.
And the end result of all this computing largess is the 80Legs service, where market researchers, video-recognition startups, and even advertising companies can buy the ability to search the web on someone else’s infrastructure on a per-instance basis. It’s like having access to Google’s search capabilities on demand. For those who fancy a cheap web crawl, GigaOM readers have access to 50 invites. Just visit 80Legs and type in “gigaom” when you register. For more details, check out the video below.