I hope VCs are realistic about any search startup's chances against Google at this stage. Cuil's traffic withered shortly after launch. Another gang of Google graduates at The Mechanical Zoo have revealed scant details of their plans with the announcement of Aardvark. The short version: Rather than asking a search engine questions, you ask your friends instead. Other than that, the social-search-or-something product remains a cryptid. Sounds more like a rival to Yahoo Answers than Google search. "For information you can trust, a person is better than a webpage," promise Aardvark's handlers. Why an Aardvark, the bug-eating African mammal?Probably because it's the first animal listed in most dictionaries, implying there will be many more products to similarly anthropomorphize. Assuming the funds from the "mega-Series-A round" the company is looking to close doesn't run out first. According to the prehensile news nose of Kara Swisher, the valuation will be "larger than is typical at this stage in the game." Mahalo and Wikia leave me unconvinced that creating new tools to get help from friends on Web queries will ever make a dent in Google's search market share. If I wanted to ask my friends — even strangers — a question, I've got all sorts of social networks I rarely use like Twitter and Facebook. Email and IM work better, anyway. It's called the Lazyweb for a reason. Why make it harder? (Photo by MontageMan)
Searching the Internet has a downside: With 1.3 billion people in the world moving an estimated 627 petabytes of information a day, it's all too easy to encounter different cultures, unique perspectives, unfamiliar worldviews and opinions strikingly different than your own. Such heterogeny of tastes and classes and backgrounds is troubling, I know. Never fear, the ex-Googlers are here! Former Google News product lead Nathan "Zip" Stoll, former Google biz-dev manager Max "Blue Lightning" Ventilla and former Google security engineer Fritz "The Cracker" Schneider and friends pilot stealth startup Mechanical Zoo.