When Facebook unveiled its new Graph Search function earlier today, it also unveiled the two people who spearheaded the new “third pillar” of Facebook: Lars Rasmussen and Tom Stocky, two heavy-hitters that Facebook hired away from the world’s current search leader, Google, over the last couple of years.
Given that both were long-time ex-Googlers, this may have been part of the reason why Zuckerberg was keen to emphasize that Graph Search is not web search. “I would love to work with Google,” Zuckerberg said today (maybe with his tongue in cheek). But with these two, Mohammed may have gotten some of the Google mountain anyway.
Graph Search, Zuckerberg said today, is in “version 1.0″ right now but these two and their team are laying the groundwork for what could end up being a major contender to Google longer term.
Danish-born, Australian-raised Lars Rasmussen joined Facebook from Google in 2010, and he brought with him not just search expertise, but in his six years at Google he was also the co-creator of Google Maps, and he headed up one of Google’s own past, now sunsetted, social media experiements, Google Wave.
People were taken by surprise when he chose to leave Google. In his explanation, which he gave in an interview at the time to his hometown newspaper the Sydney Morning Herald, he called Facebook a “once-in-a-decade type of company.” He said that Zuck had made a “compelling personal pitch” as part of the process.
“Obviously they’ve already changed the world and yet there seems to be so much more to be done there. And I think that it’s the right place for me to be,” he said. At the time, Facebook only had 500 million users, compared to the 1 billion+ today.
Tom Stocky, meanwhile was also a long-time Googler, having worked for the company since 2005 before he joined Facebook in July 2011. He is a current director of product at Facebook, a title he had also held at Google, where he had also worked on search, client and travel products, according to his blog. When he first joined Facebook, some speculated that he would be working on developer relations — since this was an area he covered before leaving Google.
Check out more of TechCrunch’s coverage of Facebook Graph Search: