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Google Buys Human-driven Search Engine Aardvark: Will It Make It to the Main SERPS?

By - February 11, 2010

Screen shot 2010-02-11 at 11.44.03 AM.pngThe news broke today that Google will be buying Aardvark, a human (and algorithm) powered social search engine that I have written about quite a bit (early last year, most recently, all). I’ve also featured the service’s founders at both Web2 and the CM Summit.)

I’ve confirmed the news in an email with CEO Max Ventilla.

I can’t say I’m surprised by this news. Aardvark’s founders and advisers have strong ties with Google (Ventilla worked there, and a key adviser was at Kaltix, which was purchased by Google).

To me the critical question around this move is this: Will the Aardvark acquisition be a Dodgeball, or will it be a Applied Semantics? With Dodgeball, Google bought a promising startup in a strategically important space, but instead of integrating the technology and committing, it let it languish (the founders left and started Foursquare). Google later determined it must play in the space, and rolled out any number of features inside its mobile, map, and even Gmail products that mimic Dodgeball’s early features.

With Applied Semantics, Google again bought a promising startup in a strategically important space, but this time it successfully integrated the company’s technology and team, driving a crucial new business – AdSense – to become a critical and game changing business for the company.

So which is Aardvark? I’m not sure anyone at either company is sure, but Google is spending a reported $50 million to make sure no one else can find out. I do know Max well enough to say that his goal would be to see Aardvark integrated into the main search interface, such that when you ask Google a question, it would give you the option of “asking a human” through the ‘vark service.

Now that would be pretty cool.

Not to mention, ‘vark uses Facebook Connect as its core social graph for question answering. I certainly hope that will stand as the company integrates.

The parties can’t speak on the record about this yet, but another hope I have for this acquisition is that some of that ‘vark DNA about humans being critical to search – not as data points, but as part of the solution, connecting one to the other – will somehow infect the Google genome. We’ll see….

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  • Richard

    wow, now that is some news to me. i have used aardwark and indeed it was pretty interesting to use the engine. With google purchasing it, we might see a complete over hauling of the interface of the website.Please keep me updated regarding this. Would love to read from you pretty soon..:)

  • JG

    Google Buys Human-driven Search Engine Aardvark: Will it Make It to the Main SERPS?

    Wrong question. Let me rephrase:

    Google Buys Human-driven Search Engine Aardvark: Will the Main SERPS make it to Aardvark?

  • cleondann

    I have heard this aardvark first time. This is seeming very good.I think this will become be trustworthy as well coz Google is supporting it.

  • Aarne Talman

    Google has loads of information about users’s social networks, that combined with Facebook Connect gives them great advantage in finding the right person to answer any question.

  • bigjobsboard

    I think that would be definitely a great idea. I mean, the strong Google will share some of its fame to Aadvark, a smaller site. I think Aadvark will go the same level as the others.

  • neha

    Thanks for the distribution over here.

    SEO tips for success