Old Friends Wink And Reunion.com Reconnect, Merge

People-search engine Wink has joined forces with Reunion.com, a hybrid people-search/social networking site, to create one giant hub for finding people you once knew but forgot to keep in touch with. The two companies have merged and will be launching a new website (and brandname) in early 2009, which the sites say will feature a total of 700 million user profiles.

Wink allows users to simultaneously search for profiles across social networks including MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, and a number of others. The site originally launched in 2005 as a people-powered search engine, and reinvented itself as a people search in 2006. In September the site reported a search index of over 500 million user profiles, though some of these seem to lead to profile pages that either don’t work or are blank.

Reunion.com combines the elements of people search with a social network. The site, which raised $25 million last year, allows users to quickly join the network by entering basic contact information, and then charges for more advanced (and snoopy) features. Premium accounts allow users to see who has searched for their profiles, and have become popular enough that the site operates at a profit and claims 50 million registered members.

The two companies have a history together, as Reunion and Wink forged a “multi-year, multi-million dollar agreement” in 2007 giving Reunion members access to Wink’s people search.

There’s a definite need for social network profile aggregators, especially as users find their online identities scattered across multiple social networks and blogs. But if the Wink/Reunion hybrid is going to become a mainstream search engine (a “Google for people search”), it badly needs to focus on the accuracy of its results. Hundreds of millions of profiles may sound like a lot, but when many of them are virtually useless the numbers really don’t mean much.