We seem to make a lot of predictions that new features and products launched by the likes of Facebook, Google, or Twitter are going to be "killers" of some sort. Facebook Places, for example, could be a "Foursquare killer." Facebook Messaging could be a "Gmail killer." A new analytics product from Twitter will be a "Klout killer." Often, as these examples indicate, these predictions come at the expense of startups.

And often, entrepreneurs fear that their great idea or great product is going to be somehow picked up and implemented by one of these giants. Now that Facebook has launched Places, with the promise of bringing check-ins and coupons to a user-base that's 500 million strong, how possibly can startups enter or survive in the location market? With Google's domination of search, how can anyone possibly make a move against them?

The announcement today that alternative search engines Blekko and DuckDuckGo have forged a partnership certainly makes a strong case that startups can operate in an area that is dominated by one major company.

Blekko provides a curated search engine, of sorts. And DuckDuckGo offers a spam-free, privacy-conscious way to search. As part of the partnership, DuckDuckGo will be using Blekko technology to improve its search results, particularly in "spammy" categories. And Blekko will be using DuckDuckGo's Zero-Click technology to offer snippets on search results.

The partnership demonstrates that it isn't simply "doom and gloom" when startups enter into an area that's (seemingly) controlled by one major company. Both DuckDuckGo and Blekko - as well as their partnership - demonstrate how startups can offer better customer satisfaction. Both companies also point to the ways in which startups can frequently be more nimble and innovative than the big companies that are described as the startup "killers."