Google acquires social search start-up Aardvark

deal makers

Fresh from launching its own social networking tool Buzz, Google has swallowed up social-search engine Aardvark.

Google has yet to provide the financial details of the deal, but reports are claiming it paid $50 million for the start-up.

"We have signed a definitive agreement to acquire Aardvark," Google confirmed in a statement. "But we don't have any additional details to share right now."

Aardvark was started up in San Francisco three years ago by a group of ex-Google employees. It offers targeted web searches, limiting its queries to friends and friends of friends in social networks such as Facebook to deliver more personalised search results. When setting up a profile, new users can specify which topics they are willing to be asked questioned about.

There's little doubt that the timing of the deal in the same week Google unveiled its Buzz social add-on to Gmail is no coincidence.

However, it remains unclear exactly what Google's plans are whether it wants the use the Aardvark team's social search experience to help develop Buzz, or plans to develop Aardvark further on its own.

Aardvark's holding company, The Mechanical Zoo, raised $6.7 million in venture capital to launch the project, which at present is limited to just a few thousand users. However if the $50-million selling price is correct, it's a tidy profit over such a short time.

The deal is expected to be finalised over the next few days, and emphasises Google's focus on gaining headway in the social networking sphere despite the mixed reception so far to Buzz.