Rich Skrenta

Richard Skrenta (born June 6, 1967, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) is a computer programmer and Silicon Valley entrepreneur who created the web search engine blekko.[1]

Skrenta in 2009


Richard J Skrenta Jr was born in Pittsburgh on June 6, 1967. In 1982, at age 15, as a high school student at Mt. Lebanon High School, Skrenta wrote the Elk Cloner virus that infected Apple II machines. It is widely believed to have been one of the first large-scale self-spreading personal computer viruses ever created.[2]

In 1989, Skrenta graduated with a B.A. in computer science from Northwestern University.[3]

Between 1989 and 1991, Skrenta worked at Commodore Business Machines with Amiga Unix.[citation needed]

In 1989, Skrenta started working on a multiplayer simulation game. In 1994, it was launched under the name Olympia as a pay-for-play PBEM game by Shadow Island Games.[4]

Between 1991 and 1995, Skrenta worked at Unix System Labs, and from 1996 to 1998 with IP-level encryption at Sun Microsystems. He later left Sun and became one of the founders of DMOZ. He stayed on board after the Netscape acquisition, and continued to work on the directory as well as Netscape Search, AOL Music, and AOL Shopping.[citation needed]

After his stint at AOL, Skrenta went on to cofound Topix LLC, a Web 2.0 company in the news aggregation & forums market.[5]

In 2005, Skrenta and his fellow cofounders sold a 75% share of Topix to a newspaper consortium made up of Tribune, Gannett, and Knight Ridder.[6]

In the late 2000s, Skrenta headed the startup company Blekko Inc, which was an Internet search engine.[6] Blekko received early investment support from Marc Andreessen[7] and began public beta testing on November 1, 2010.[8]

In 2015, IBM acquired both the Blekko company and search engine for their Watson computer system.[9]

Skrenta was involved[when?][how?] in the development of VMS Monster, an old MUD for VMS. VMS Monster was part of the inspiration for TinyMUD. He is also known for his role in developing TASS, an ancestor of tin,[10] the popular threaded Usenet newsreader for Unix systems.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Arrington, Michael (2008-01-02). "The Next Google Search Challenger: Blekko". TechCrunch, 2 January 2008. Retrieved from
  2. ^ Associated Press (2007-08-31). "Prank starts 25 years of computer security woes". CTV. Archived from the original on 2008-01-07.
  3. ^ "Northwestern University, 131st Annual Commencement, June 17, 1989".
  4. ^ Olympia homepage
  5. ^ USA Today (2007-04-01). "Interview with Topix founder Rich Skrenta". Retrieved 2010-05-22.
  6. ^ a b Start-Up Blekko Tries to Take On Google The Wall Street Journal, October 31, 2010
  7. ^ Stealth Search Engine Blekko Gets Money From Marc Andreessen, SoftTech TechCrunch, May 14, 2008
  8. ^ Wollman, Dana (2010-11-02). "Blekko launches human-driven search engine". News & Record. Associated Press. Retrieved 2010-11-03.
  9. ^ "Data, Data, Everywhere Data. Now a Better Way to Understand It". IBM. March 27, 2015. Retrieved 2016-02-04.
  10. ^ Tass threaded newsreader Rich Skrenta's Official Tass Page

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