Have you used Spock? I have (here’s my profile). This cute little startup is a niche search engine that returns people results. Think of it as Google + LinkedIn. Unfortunately, it’s not a very impressive idea, in the sense of being very challenging. Sure there’s probably lots going on behind the scenes to scour relevant sites for personal information, but that’s a lot of grunt work once you have the concept. They have a cute (there’s that word again) concept called “Spock Power” which – get this — harnesses the Wisdom of Crowds™ to determine the most visible users in search results! Who would have thought of that? 10 bucks says one of their founders (was it the iguana?) wanted to go with the term “PeopleRank” before they settled on Spock Power.
I’m immediately reminded of Joel Spolsky’s frequent “where there’s muck, there’s brass” posts (thus the iguana reference). There’s just not much long-term value in building a product that is so easily replicated. Sorry, Dave!
Further, information is missing. There are a lot of implicit connections that could be made, that aren’t. Example: why is my blog not tied to my Spock identity? There might not be any direct link, but a heuristic / fuzzy search could make the connection easily. Where’s my Facebook profile? That’s an easy one.
How this product made Wired’s Top 10 Startups Worth Watching in 2008 (I won’t even dignify the list with a link) is beyond my comprehension. I thusly conclude: Laziness! Or nepotism. Maybe both.