Know Your Code
By: C.J. Cantwell


In a betrayal of public trust and an obscene display of vanity, Hooli’s CEO Gavin Belson has manipulated the Hooli-Search results that appear when you search his name. An un-named Hooli insider tells us the tech CEO was “really pissed” when a Hooli-Search of “Gavin Belson” led to a less-than-favorable list of links showcasing early dissatisfaction with the Nucleus platform. And so Belson felt it was time to give Hooli-Search a “Hooli-Scrub.”

According to our insider, after Belson fired the entire Nucleus division, he had the gall to give them the immoral, if not illegal, task of altering the results. Belson demanded the Nucleus team—as they cleared their desks of ergonomic keyboards and crumpled Homicide cans—complete one final project: the erasure of their own existence. Belson, of course, kept his distance from the distasteful act, as our source tells us: “One of his like, assistants came down and told the engineers they wouldn’t get their severance if they didn’t do it. It was pretty messed up.” Our insider also said rumors swirled internally that Belson didn’t involve the Hooli-Search engineering team in this conspiracy “because it would be really unethical.” A trite concept for the CEO, we’re sure.

Those familiar with scrubbing search results will know the task is an arduous one. Like many search algorithms, Hooli-Search tracks the number of links directing to each website to help determine which results are most relevant to the search terms. When showing search results, Hooli-Search prioritizes web addresses with the most links pointing to them. And so, Nucleus engineers were forced to create a network of websites—called content farms—and fill these sites with articles linking to what Belson would prefer to see when he Hooli-Searches his name. Adding to the deception, the Nucleus engineers would need to validate these content farms as sites that a search engine could trust—a new site that no one is linking to won’t get much credit in the Hooli-Search algorithm. And so the engineers quietly put links to the new fraudulent content farms on Hooli domains in places where no one would look too closely: press releases, site maps, maybe the bottom of a Hooli-News page. This method, while time consuming, effectively pushes down the undesirable Nucleus headlines past the first few pages of search results, where no one would click.

One can’t help but wonder what Gavin Belson was trying to hide. As our un-named Hooli insider says, “It’s weird ’cause everyone knew Nucleus sucked.” After a glitchy live stream UFC event, the platform failed to meet any advertised benchmarks, and it was no secret—especially on the internet—that the project was a downright bust. Belson changing the Hooli-Search results does not change the embarrassing live stream event. It does not change that he himself dissolved the failing project. And it certainly doesn’t change our impression of Belson, as an arrogant, vain man with no respect for his customer.

A Hooli-Search of “Gavin Belson” now shows results for his lauded dissolve of the Nucleus division, his purchase of the promising middle-out company Endframe, and his charitable work with Hooli Habitat. To read about his missteps with Nucleus, you’ll have to go the third or—God-forbid—the fourth results page. Will this article, too, be Hooli-Scrubbed and pushed down the results pages until it’s buried amongst people finders and MySpace links? We suppose we’ll find out when we Hooli-Search ourselves tomorrow morning. Until then, heil Gavin.

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