The Internet has become a cesspool of information without a funnel to siphon the garbage. It makes finding answers to questions that much more difficult. But what if you could enter a question in a search box and direct that traffic to experts who can answer the question, whether on a PC or mobile phone?
Aardvark has the technology. And Google acquired it, confirms Damon Horowitz, Aardvark's co-founder and chief technology officer.
Google paid $50 million for the company, according to TechCrunch, which first reported the deal, citing sources. Aardvark's technology allows people to ask questions, then pushes those questions out to a network of people who might have the expertise to answer them. The answers are sent back to the person asking the question through email, instant message, or Twitter. Google did not respond to requests for comment.
Reliable-SEO founder David Harry says Google will likely connect Aardvark's technology with Google Wave and Buzz. It will provide an option to ask the question to social connections on the Web, social connections on email or connections across the Web in a variety of networks. "Would you like to ask the question in your network, or the public at large?" he says. "It wouldn't have made sense to announce the deal with Aardvark last week without first announcing the product Buzz."
Aardvark isn't the only question-and-answer search engine. Ask.com launched a question-and-answer engine late last year. Ask.com's U.S. President Doug Leeds told MediaPost he intends to reinvent the "question and answer" engine, and has embarked on a project to take the company in a new direction. Part of the project, supported by search technology, aims to solve a completely different problem: not where to find relevant information on Web pages using link structure, but where to find relevant information based on someone's question.
Leeds believes Aardvark is about two years away from being able to handle the support for the type of query volume Google would get. Ask.com has about 1 million questions asked daily, he says.
Today, algorithms power Ask.com's question search engine, but in the second quarter of this year, that will change. Ask.com plans to launch a community network of people to support its question-and-answer platform.
Founded by ex-Google employees, Aardvark has raised about $6 million in venture capital funding based on a social search engine business model. Since October 2009, Aardvark had 90,361 users, and about 55.9% have asked or answered a question. The site's average query volume sits at about 3,167.2 questions per day.
Earlier this month, company executives learned the research paper "Anatomy of a Large-Scale Social Search Engine" had been accepted by the WWW 2010 committee. Findings of the paper are found here.