Google Acquires Aardvark For $50 million (Confirmed)

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Update: Aardvark CEO Max Ventilla emails to say “We can now confirm that Google has signed a deal to acquire us but have no further comment.”

Google has acquired social search service Aardvark, says a source that has been briefed on the deal, for around $50 million. We first reported on the discussions between the two companies in December. Those discussions have now turned into a signed deal, says our source, and will be announced today or tomorrow.

Aardvark, founded by ex-Googlers, has raised around $6 million in venture capital to date. The service lets users ask questions and get immediate responses from their friends and friends of friends.

Earlier this month the company published a research report that included some key stats about their business:

As of October 2009, Aardvark had 90,361 users, of whom 55.9% had created content (asked or answered a question). The site’s average query volume was 3,167.2 questions per day, with the median active user asking 3.1 questions per month. Interestingly, mobile users are more active than desktop users. The Aardvark team attributes this to users wanting quick, short answers on their phones without having to dig for anything. They also think people are more used to using more natural language patterns on their phones.

The average query length was 18.6 words (median of 13) versus 2.2-2.9 words on a standard search engine.  Some of this difference comes from the more natural language people use (with words like “a”, “the”, and “if”).  It’s also because people tend to add more context to their queries, with the knowledge that it will be read by a human and will likely lead to a better answer.

98.1% of questions asked on Aardvark were unique, compared with between 57 and 63% on traditional search engines.

87.7% of questions submitted were answered, and nearly 60% of them were answered within 10 minutes.  The median answering time was 6 minutes and 37 seconds, with the average question receiving two answers.  70.4% of answers were deemed to be ‘good’, with 14.1% as ‘OK’ and 15.5% were rated as bad.

86.7% of Aardvark users had been asked by Aardvark to answer a question, of whom 70% actually looked at the question and 38% could answer.  50% of all members had answered a question (including 75% of all users who had ever actually interacted with the site), though 20% of users accounted for 85% of answers.

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