Everyone knows that the Google search engine no longer wants to be a social donut.
But the first true social search engine may have already escaped the innovation machine at the Googleplex.
Led by Nathan Stoll, former product lead of Google News, Mechanical Zoo may launch in beta as early as May, 2008. Search Engine Watch readers may remember Stoll's Google News presentation at SES San Jose in 2005.
San Francisco-based Mech Zoo was co-founded by Max Ventilla, a former Google business development manager; and computer scientist Damon Horowitz, former lead engineer of Perspecta, a search software firm. Former Google Firefox app-security engineer Fritz Schneider, is on staff.
Ex-Yahoos joined the team, too: Winton Davies, (Yahoo Research Labs), and Bob Zoller (Yahoo 360).
Sep Kamvar, founder of search technology company Kaltix (sold to Google) is an adviser.
Mechanical Zoo is building products that enable "social search" by accessing the knowledge of people in your network. It's not too far from the old Bebo space.
Their plan is to develop several experimental offshoots built around their core technology.
The 12-man team is looking for a few good people. So what skills would you need? AJAXy web development; rapid prototyping and development with rails; new paradigms of data availability and access (OpenSocial); distributed systems and large datasets; statistics; algorithms; NLP and machine learning; recommendation systems; usability research; online community building; and data-driven marketing.
Sounds like there's more than a one-trick pony search engine at the Mechanical Zoo.