Live Long & Prosper: Spock.com
First let me confess that I got the title idea from my good friend Ed Zier when he sent me an email asking whether or not I too had been getting deluged with emails from Spock.com. And then I realized that for the past couple of weeks I have, in fact, been receiving a bunch (as in two or three per day) of emails from these folks.
From what I understand, this company is in the category of "people search" which includes competitors like Wink.com, Whozat.com and I suppose companies like ZoomInfo and LinkedIN. Unlike Google, where if you type in someone’s name then you get a stream of results often in the tens of thousands, results of people search sites are only people (or at least that’s the idea). There are a number of companies that do people search in the physical world (like Intelius which I’ve heard is a $100 million-ish revenue business) but these firms are primarily about background checks and finding your physical address or phone number. The new crop of online people search firms are more about finding your online presence (Facebook, LinkedIN, Wikipedia, etc.).
To give a quick example, here is screen shot of a Google search for "venture capital boston." Note how the results page includes a map and a list of links to venture capital organizations as well as firms.
Now, if we look at the same results from Spock, the results are a list of venture capitalists in Boston and instead of a map, I get pictures of people. Pretty cool.
So as for Spock, is it worth it? Well, I have to say that the user interface is nicely designed and the search results are fairly good. Not only am I able to find people with unique names (like me) but it also does a pretty good job of finding people with common names by filtering. For example, if I know that the person I’m looking for is in New York or that they work in venture capital, I can add those search terms. The results are definitely better than a simple Google search. So with that, my sense is that Spock really ought to be a tab on existing search engines (i.e. add "people" to the existing list of images, news, videos, etc.). In the meantime, I plan to use Spock and other people search engines when I’m looking for someone.