Google has purchased an Aardvark.
As first reported by TechCrunch, the Mountain View Chocolate Factory just acquired a "social search" service named for an nocturnal African mammal. According to an anonymous source speaking with TechCrunch, Google paid about $50m for Aardvark.
Aardvark - founded by, yes, ex-Googlers - lets you ask questions of online "friends" and online "friends" of online "friends" and, well, you get the idea. You ask a question - something along the lines of "Is this Aardvark thing really worth $50m?" - and the service attempts to identify someone in your extended social network who's suited to answering. Answers aren't provided in real time. You're notified via email or IM when and if an answer is found.
According to Aardvark, as of October 2009, it had 90,361 users, and only 55.9 per cent had actually asked or answered a question. The company says that 87.7 per cent of questions submitted were answered, and nearly 60 per cent are answered within 10 minutes.
Google's acquisition comes just days after the release of Google Buzz, a Gmail add-on that mimics social networking services along the lines of Twitter and Facebook - and assumes you want it to expose your Gmail contacts and your email address to world+dog. ®
Our question has been answered. "If Twitter is valued in the billions," says someone we don't know. "I would say yes."
And it just got answered again. "No, nut. Google is desperate to buildout into social network," says someone else we don't know, "and $50M is nothing for them and a bargin [sic]."
Hopefully this will stop.