Lazy Research Puts Spock on Top 10 List

Have you used Spock? I have (here’s my profile). This cute little startup is a niche search engine that returns people results. Think of it as Google + LinkedIn. Unfortunately, it’s not a very impressive idea, in the sense of being very challenging. Sure there’s probably lots going on behind the scenes to scour relevant sites for personal information, but that’s a lot of grunt work once you have the concept. They have a cute (there’s that word again) concept called “Spock Power” which – get this — harnesses the Wisdom of Crowds™ to determine the most visible users in search results! Who would have thought of that? 10 bucks says one of their founders (was it the iguana?) wanted to go with the term “PeopleRank” before they settled on Spock Power.

I’m immediately reminded of Joel Spolsky’s frequent “where there’s muck, there’s brass” posts (thus the iguana reference).  There’s just not much long-term value in building a product that is so easily replicated. Sorry, Dave!

Further, information is missing. There are a lot of implicit connections that could be made, that aren’t. Example: why is my blog not tied to my Spock identity? There might not be any direct link, but a heuristic / fuzzy search could make the connection easily. Where’s my Facebook profile? That’s an easy one.

How this product made Wired’s Top 10 Startups Worth Watching in 2008 (I won’t even dignify the list with a link) is beyond my comprehension. I thusly conclude: Laziness! Or nepotism. Maybe both.


3 Responses to “Lazy Research Puts Spock on Top 10 List”

  1. 1 Kathy Jacobs December 31, 2007 at 3:02 pm

    I have used Spock. I use it quite frequently, in fact. I see it as much more than just Google + LinkedIn. I see it as a different way to handle my contacts and potential contacts. I use Spock in a few different ways.

    I use Spock to track what’s new with people I am already in contact with. By going to their profile, I can find out if I have missed something that is going on or a connection of theirs that interests me.

    I also use Spock to learn about people who interest me or who contact me. By checking a Spock profile, I can find out if the person is who they say they are and if there are other things we have in common. Yes, I can get some of that information from other places. Spock’s advantage is that it gives me the information and links in one place.

    I use Spock also to update what I am doing, all in one place. I have networks on FaceBook, Twitter, Flickr, etc. Spock gives people one place to look for all that information.

    You asked why it didn’t pick up your blog and attach it to your name. My guess is that there is nothing on your blog that tells the searches that it belongs with your name. In fact, when I checked your LinkedIn bio, it isn’t listed there either.Because you have mentioned the connection in this blog entry, I was able to add your blog to your Spock page very easily. Now that it is there, others in the web community can vote on the connection and verify that it is a real connection(i.e., that your blog is your blog). By making it community based, you can’t go claim someone else’s blog and someone else can’t claim yours.

    One of the big benefits I get out of Spock over Plaxo or other networks is that the information is provided when I want to pull it, not when you want to push it. Just as with your blog, you put the information there and I can go see it at any time I want. That gives me the power to decide when to learn about you, while you retain the power over the content.

    By working together as a network, we make it possible for everyone to learn what they want to know when they want to know it about whom they want to know it.

  2. 2 Anthony Stevens December 31, 2007 at 4:42 pm

    Very well considered comment. It didn’t occur to me that you could add items to others’ profiles. That is interesting. What prevents abuse? The aggregate of all the votes?

    In rereading my original post I was obviously in the throes of a deadpool-inspired cynicism fest. Thanks for taking the time to point out some of the features and concepts that I had blithely overlooked.

  3. 3 Jay December 31, 2007 at 4:50 pm

    Hi Anthony – thanks for the blog post about Spock and ways we can improve the service from a messaging standpoint and value prop.

    With regards to your question about abuse, we

    1. Dont allow nudity or adult terms on Spock. If they get there somehow, members of the community quickly flag it and it gets removed quickly.

    2. We have 2 customer serivce people working full time looking at community contributions everyday.

    3. The thing with Spock is that we have a lot of cool tools and features that we did a poor job of marketing. I’ll work harder on that.

    But just for reference, we have over 2 billion documents about people indexed and over 200 million+ unique search results about people indexed.

    Our index is growing by over 1 million people per day.


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