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Far-reaching changes due to Google Labs closure as all attention turns to Google+
Google announced Friday that, as part of the shutdown of Google Labs and huge Google+ push, social Q&A site Aardvark is closing down.
Here’s part of the announcement (full text here) made by original Aardvark co-founders Max Ventilla and Damon Horowitz:
Aardvark began as a small experiment in a new kind of social search, and over a few years blossomed into a service that made millions of connections between people to answer each other’s questions. It was a great experience in seeking to combine a broad vision for the future of technology with a rigorous user-centered design process. Over this time, we learned a lot about creating and maintaining online communities, and how to facilitate sharing of knowledge between people.
We’ve been excited to share these lessons within Google over the past year, especially as part of the effort behind Google+. It has been gratifying to see how well this project is doing — even in these early stages, Google+ has already become a great place to share knowledge online, eclipsing the original vark.com! — and there is much more to come very soon. In this and other projects at Google, the Aardvark team remains committed to developing powerful tools for connecting people and improving access to information.
Users could submit questions to Aardark over the website, email or mobile, and the service would find a friend or friend of a friend with the right knowledge for that particular inquiry. The foundational concept is that no one knows everything, but everyone as a collective knows quite a bit about the world around us. Ask a question, tap into the social graph, find an answer.
Google acquired Aardvark in February 2010 for $50 million, days after the unveiling of Google Buzz, a soon-to-be social flop. As a private startup, Aardvark had raised $6 million and accrued around 100,000 users.
The site is going away, however, with the rest of Google Labs and related projects. Another acquisition, Slide, which Google had spent $200 million on, also got nixed this week. And the company’s founder and Google VP Max Levchin revealed that he too would be leaving Google.
Therein lies one key difference, since the Aardvark team is (so far) committed to Google and extending its social features.
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