Facebook this morning unveiled “Graph Search,” a new search tool for finding people, photos, places and interests in a way that the social networking giant was very careful to point out is very different from web search.
But, nearing the end of the press conference held at Facebook headquarters this morning, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced “one more thing”: Facebook has deepened its partnership with Microsoft to show searches that can’t be answered by the Web Graph through its Bing search engine.
That means that while Facebook may not itself be getting into the traditional web search space, users will not need to go outside of the bounds of the social network — say, to a site such as Google — to do web search after all. Zuckerberg called Bing “a world class search engine” that he was happy to give his users deeper and quicker access to in the event that Graph Search cannot give them the best response.
Here’s a bit more about the integration will look via a Bing blog post published this morning:
“Now when you do a web search on Facebook, the new search results page features a two-column layout with Bing-powered web results appearing on the left-hand side overlaid with social information from Facebook including how many people like a given result. On the right hand side, you will see content from Facebook Pages and apps that are related to your search.”
During a Q&A session following the press event, Zuckerberg expanded on the partnership. “We have a great partnership with the folks over at Microsoft… this [integration between Bing and Facebook] highlights the difference between graph search and web search in a way,” as Facebook results help make Bing’s results more social and Bing’s search allows Facebook users to find links to information they need.
But he also added that he is not opposed to working with other search companies. “I would love to work with Google. When we did our Bing web search integration we were very public about the fact that we wanted to make search social in general… it wasn’t something I just wanted to do with Bing.”
Indeed, Facebook and Microsoft have been tight for a number of years now. Back in 2007, Microsoft invested $240 million into the then-privately held Facebook, giving the social networking company a $15 billion valuation (a capitalization at which some people balked at the time.) That obviously turned out to be a fruitful investment for Microsoft, as Facebook is now valued at $65 billion on the public markets. It seems clear now that the Microsoft/Facebook relationship is just as strong as ever, despite the fact that that initial investment has been returned — both at the business and engineering levels.
Check out more of TechCrunch’s coverage of Facebook Graph Search: