Google is working fast and furious to streamline their product offerings. Just a couple weeks after killing off all but one of the projects in their Slide division, today comes another death: Aardvark.
Co-founder Max Ventilla says the service will shut down at the end of this month. We broke the news of Google and Aardvark talking in late 2009. By February 2010, they had a deal: Google bought Aardvark for $50 million.
But Google never really did anything interesting with Aardvark, despite the big time potential. It was a type of social search that paved the way for services like Quora and now Jig. Instead of having them focus on Search, Google put most of the Aardvark team on the Google+ project.
Here’s Ventilla’s full letter to users:
As part of the shutdown of GoogleLabs, Aardvark will be shutting down at the end of September.
Aardvark began as a small experiment in a new kind of social search, and over a few years blossomed into a service that made millions of connections between people to answer each other’s questions. It was a great experience in seeking to combine a broad vision for the future of technology with a rigorous user-centered design process. Over this time, we learned a lot about creating and maintaining online communities, and how to facilitate sharing of knowledge between people.
We’ve been excited to share these lessons within Google over the past year, especially as part of the effort behind Google+. It has been gratifying to see how well this project is doing — even in these early stages, Google+ has already become a great place to share knowledge online, eclipsing the original vark.com! — and there is much more to come very soon. In this and other projects at Google, the Aardvark team remains committed to developing powerful tools for connecting people and improving access to information.
Of course, we’re also sad to say goodbye to the original Aardvark here at vark.com. Who would have thought that a digital version of a nocturnal burrowing mammal would have engendered so much affection! We’re very grateful to the whole Aardvark community for your support along the way.
Max and Damon
p.s. In the spirit of data liberation, we want to make sure that any of you Aardvark users who would like to retrieve your past data from the service can do so. Right now of course you can log in and manually copy anything you’d like to keep. Or if you prefer, you can email us at email@example.com and we’ll send you a bulk dump of your data (please allow time for us to process these). After September 30, there will be no way to retrieve your data, as shortly after that we will delete everything permanently.
Aardvark (formerly Mechanical Zoo) is a social search engine, founded by a group of former Google employees. Aardvark that lets users ask questions that are distributed to the social graph for a quick and high quality answers. It launched into private beta in 2008. Aardvark is a way to get quick, quality answers to questions from your extended social network. You can ask questions via an instant message buddy or email. The questions are then farmed out to your contacts...