Google has been fending off critics ever since it launched Search Plus Your World – which works more like Search Plus Our World, often favoring Google+ results.
But beyond the hubbub, there’s a real problem here that Google’s trying to solve, albeit clumsily: people search.
That’s the impetus for Ark, a recent Y Combinator grad that indexes over 1 billion profiles from Facebook, LinkedIn, Foursquare, Google+, and other social networks. The search engine helps you find that old classmate whose last name you forget, a business contact you chatted with last night, or nearby strangers you might want to meet – by searching hometown, interests, or other qualities.
“Ark is designed to complement Google as the other side of search,” explains cofounder Patrick Riley. “With all due respect to their contributions in the past … as soon as they decided to attempt to create and glorify their own social networks, and reduce the content in their own index (removed Twitter and others), they demonstrated that they can no longer be trusted as a neutral party. We decided there should be a search engine that will never play favorites, and be the neutral search engine.”
Like the Google team, Ark’s cofounders have the brains to back up their daring venture. Riley and Yiming Liu met as PhD students at UC Berkeley, studying information systems and search, and Riley (also a Fulbright Fellow) has built search engines in the past.
The team has now grown to 14 engineers, and they’re working on innovations in mobile and location-based search. Sign up for an invite here (and while you’re waiting, check out the cute swimming penguins on the bottom of the page).