People search engine Spock is about to be sold, say multiple sources. Spock was a hot startup back when it launched in 2007, but after an initial spike in traffic, the company has gone sideways and faded into obscurity. People search, it seems, will be dominated by the likes of LinkedIn and Facebook, who are both now being smart about search engine optimization.
Now they’ve burned through much of the cash they raised, which includes an announced $7 million round plus additional undisclosed funding. And they’ve been trying to sell themselves for some time – we’ve confirmed with a couple of buyers who looked at it and passed. Meanwhile, Spock has started charging users to access their data.
But one company may have bitten and are close to buying the company. Sources are saying that the infamous Intelius (founded by the equally infamous Naveen Jain), a people search engine that charges users to access data, may be buying Spocksoon. If these rumors are accurate, God help Spock. Not only is Intelius embroiled in all kinds of legal and ethical disputes, but they also have a shaky history when it comes to acquisitions. See this article, for example, about a 2005 acquisition of addresses.com, which ended up in litigation. Our coverage of Intelius is here and here.
Selling to Intelius is just one step less painful than shutting down the company outright, so things must be worse at Spock than we’ve heard. Note that we’ve only been able to absolutely confirm that the two companies have had recent meetings about an acquisition, we’re still looking for a sale confirmation.