Good article over at Search Engine Land from my new found buddy search and developer relations guru Vanessa Fox on People Search. Vanessa interviews the players in the space including the CEO’s of Spock and Wink. Very exhuastive review of the article.
Vanessa quotes me (and notes my former role at Spock) in response to a question of what Facebook might mean to the people search market:
“When people search companies started, the assumption was that they would help aggregate and distill the multiple identities people were creating online. The goal was to create the complete view of you—likes, dislikes, background, friends, etc and since that information was spread around the net—aggregating that disparate information potentially provides a ton of value.
What none of the people search engines expected was Facebook. In a social network like Facebook, users willingly handing over all the information that people search engines are trying to cull and aggregate. Thus in a world where everyone is on Facebook, Facebook becomes the only place people need to go search for people. Now, if everyone doesn’t flock to Facebook and other dominant profile-based networks emerge, then people search engines provide the important layer on top of those networks helping to connect the dots across them.”
Facebook is really an interesting question to the people search question. Right now Facebook isn’t even close to being the single destination envisioned in my quote but in a world of what-if’s its an interesting question.
As a former member of the Spock team – I want to see them succeed so I am biased, but it will be an interesting horse race. What’s perhaps even more interesting is that a year ago the question was more likely to be how does one compete against Google in the space. Now no one questions how to defend against Google but instead focuses on how to beat Facebook. Of course given how crappy Facebook’s search function is on their site, I think the folks at the various people search engines are likely sleeping a little more easily.
[Note I am advisor to Facebar not Facebook – folks always seem to make that mistake when reading my LinkedIn profile]