Posted by: Academy of Achievement | 12/14/2012


Ori Allon, Ph.D., Class of 2006
Founder and Executive Chairman, Urban Compass

I was honored to be a student delegate to the 2006 International Summit. I joined over 300 students from all over the world in sunny Los Angeles, California to meet and exchange ideas and experiences with some of the world’s greatest leaders, influencers, scientists, and business people. Being in a room with such talent was inspirational. I left the Summit motivated to contribute my talents to helping improve people’s lives, and equipped with friends and lasting connections, both personal and professional.”

As a doctoral student at the University of New South Wales in Australia, Ori Allon developed the Orion Search Engine. While previous search engines returned pages containing a given keyword, the Orion also returns pages with content that is strongly related to the keyword. Allon’s creation earned praise from Bill Gates, among others, for revolutionizing web searches. Although the University, which controlled the rights to Orion, held talks with Yahoo and MSN, Google clinched the deal, buying exclusive rights to the Orion search algorithm in April 2006. Google also hired Allon. In 2009, Google announced that it had fully incorporated the Orion Search technology and algorithm. In 2010, Allon left Google and became the Founder and CEO of Julpan. In 2011, Julpan was acquired by Twitter.

Allon’s next start-up was Urban Compass (, co-founded by Robert Reffkin, a White House Fellow he met at the 2006 International Achievement Summit in Los Angeles. Allon is the Executive Chairman and Reffkin the CEO of Urban Compass.

Urban Compass aims to help consumers “search better” and explains its business model by saying, “We understand people. We understand technology. We’re building a platform of hyper-local knowledge and information to help people make their most important personal decisions.

Developments in both hardware and software, mostly mobile, have made it possible to collect data, and track what is happening in the real world — we call it the ‘offline world’ — in a way that was not possible in the recent past,” says Allon. “Collecting the information is the first step, but creating a platform that will make this data searchable and relevant, with a real business model, is what we are excited about.

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