Facebook Buys Chai Labs, a Semantic Search Startup Founded by a Former Adsense Leader

Facebook has bought bought semantic search startup Chai Labs, according to AllThingsD, which reports that the amount was “likely to be around $10 million and directed at acquiring talent,” although neither company has confirmed the deal.

Founded by former Google AdSense executive Gokul Rajaram — who we assume already knows at least some of the many ex-Googlers at Facebook — the company has raised $2.4 million, including from some very well-known Silicon Valley investors, including Facebook board member Marc Andreessen, Facebook stockholder Reid Hoffman and Google Ventures partner Joe Kraus.

What does Chai Labs do? From the web site:

Our semantic search platform uses proprietary crawling, artificial intelligence and data mining technologies to analyze and extract insights from millions of real-time data points across the web. Our goal is to give consumers the most comprehensive, unbiased, up-to-date information they need to make informed and confident purchase decisions. We are laser-focused on simplifying complexity due to over abundance of online sources about a specific topic, leading to information overload.

Our insights are:

Objective – created using AI-based computer algorithms
Real-time – computed and updated continually.
Comprehensive – created using millions of data points across tens of thousands of entities.
Highly visual – able to be presented in a highly visual and engaging format.

Rajaram, his team, and the technology the company has created sound relevant to a number of initiatives that Facebook is working on, from better targeting Facebook ads to providing more relevant search results, or even adding new content into Community Pages. And, Facebook’s Open Graph Protocol is already trying to create a semantic data set that third parties can use to better map out Facebook data as it relates to people and web sites, so maybe Chai Labs will go to work here. Or maybe he’ll work on the project that many outsiders have long suspected Facebook will launch — its own version of AdSense — something the company has avoided commenting on.

Google might not be too happy to see Rajaram end up at Facebook, given his expertise in creating one of Google’s key revenue sources. He departed the company in 2007, holding the title of Product Management Director for Adsense — he helped lead its development from the earliest days. In fact, Google threw him a big party when he left, even giving him a plaque with the signatures of hundreds of employees.