Google has acquired Social Search provider Aardvark for $50 million, as reported minutes ago by TechCrunch. Aardvark is a service that connects people with questions with people with answers by utilizing instant messaging an email. It integrates quite intelligently with Google Chat, for instance, and the first time you sign up and ask a question, you’re immediately pinged with a friend request from the Aardvark chat bot. The fact that Google is picking them up says a lot about the type of social features they want to introduce into their products moving forward.
While the CEO has no comment on the deal other than to confirm it, we can see that this news follows quickly after the announcement of Google Buzz, and a half year after the launch of Google Wave. Google is certainly attempting to move forward with their social strategy and to connect users together in meaningful ways, and the acquisition of such a unique service indicates that they are trying to differentiate from Facebook. Aardvark is a service that is less about your immediate friends network and more about your extended friends-of-friends network. The service does not let you chat with strangers, and therefore offers an important incentive to building a network of people you trust.
I’m personally a big fan of the service, and feel that it’s ability to connect you with new types of people in your network reall;y separates it from other social networks. There is a bit of a lack of creativity on most of the popular social networks, in my opinion, and our behavior on there simply emulates our real-life social behavior. This is a tool that allows you to gain knowledge and share with people you may not interact with as much, and is certainly a learning device. Aardvark bills itself as social search, and in Google’s hands, we may hear a lot more about this company in the months to come.
Aardvark has published a lot of information about its own services and ideas on its blog, including statistics about its user base and their behavior on vark.com. Check it out here.