Spock Review and Exclusive Interview with Co-founder

I’ve been given a login to the private version of Spock from friend Dave McClure a vertical search engine and was actually very pleased to see what was going on. While I’m often very cautious of people recreating existing communities this one is doing something different and doing something that matters.

Spock is a search engine for people. It has the ability to organize all of one’s personal information and aggreagate on to one page. I had a few questions after I had cruised around the application, think of it as like a wiki or tagging for individuals.

Here’s what I think are some key advantages for Spock: The platform lets us organize information around a person, rather than the applications that collect the data. Users can submit keywords about different individuals, so it’s really a peer based review. Great way for seeing how others think about an individual. You can also find other individuals with similar keywords and features, while there are certainly too many social networks out there this could potentially aggregate all that data for one profile. I see an opportunity to partner with other identity and profile networks like LinkedIn, Plaxo, and even OpenID. At some point the web will need a verifiable identity for individuals, it would be nice to have the option of coupling it with this data from Spock.

Dave connected me with Jay Bhatti, the co-founder and VP of Product, who was able to answer my questions. The intro that matters, are the keywords on his Spock profile:

smartvote Co-Founder of SPOCK.COMvote Wharton School of Businessvote Spock teamvote Spock board membervote product managervote liger lovervote athleticvote not just any bhattivote born in indiavote Accenturevote Wharton MBAvote Co-founder SPOCKvote smelly shirtsvote brown eyes


Jeremiah: I’m checking out Spock it looks interesting, it was great for my ‘ego surf’, as well as find out about others that share similar interests. So what is Spock? And how’d you get that catchy name?

Jay: Spock is a search application that organizes information around people to enable discovery and learning. We got the name in a open domain name auction. The original register did not renew the domain and it was bought by someone who put it up on sale and we had the winning bid


Jeremiah: Why Spock? What’s broken? What does Spock do that Google or Wikipedia can’t?

Jay: Searching for information around people is hard and broken. For example, you probably have thousands of people in your address book, but you could not quickly and easily find those that went to Stanford and work at Google (unless you spend hours organizing all this in your address book). Spock will solve the problem for you to easily and quickly organize the people in your world with minimal effort (Spock and the community will do most of the work in organizing this information for you).

Google organizes info around web documents, we organize information around people. which requires a much different approach (man and machine contribution) and much more sophisticated algorithms (how do we know a page is about a person and not a car? Google does not care what the web document is about, only its relevant keywords. Spock really cares about if the document is about a person, and that is hard to do).

Wikipedia is only for famous people. Spock is about every person on the planet. So, if your looking for a dentist in Sacramento who went to Stanford Dental school, you would use Spock, not Wikipedia.

Jeremiah: What can we expect in the future from Spock? Will this expand to other verticals?

Jay: We will stay focused on people. Spock will not expand into other verticals. We want to be the number 1 search application for people in the world. In the future, we will expand the richness of information around people with features like news and videos organized around people.

I hope this helps.


Jeremiah: Thanks Jay, it does help, good clarifications and segmentations, I look forward to seeing it more widely adopted.


Screenshots

Since most folks can’t login to Spock yet, I’ve been given permission to share a few screenshots, take a look:

Spock Homepage
Above Image: The Spock homepage,spartan and clean.

Jeremiah Owyang's Spock Profile
Above Image: My profile, I didn’t add any of these tags, this was done by my network, guess what people think about my wife?

Spock's Paris Hilton Profile
Above Image: My good friend Paris’s profile (actually she had two profiles in Spock)

All Spock members tagged "Drunk Driver"
Above Image: Tags yield clusters: Clicking on any of the tags helps to find people with similiar attributes, in this case, Paris and friends share “drunk driving”


Final Thoughts:

Spock was fun for the ego search, I could also find folks with common interests, that was helpful and interesting. I find Wikipedia restrictive and non-fun, Spock fulfills this. I see Spock has some interesting ways of aggregating ‘Universal Personal’ info but I would be a bit concerned that Google could easily offer this with some of their new “Universal Search” directions. Most important questions: Would I use Spock? Yes. Would I tell others? Yes. Would I invest money into it? There’s not enough with the current feature set.

  • The thing that I like most about Spock is that my search results are not limited to those in my network as LinkedIn would. Actually…LinkedIn still gives you those out of network results but then there aren’t any names attached. With Spock you get the link to the LinkedIn public profile, name and all.

    But as most services that are still in private beta there are still definitely some kinks. I get different search results on different browsers, which I found really odd. Same keywords, just different browsers.

    BTW if anyone wants an invite to Spock I have some invites to give out. My email is lisaamorao at gmail dot com.

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  • Hi Jeremiah, was just wondering, were any of your contacts spammed with invites from Spock? A colleague of mine says he has some angry contacts who received invites which he said he never sent (it looks like they were his LinkedIn contacts…not sure exactly what happened but he’s sure he didn’t send them as a matter of fact he hasn’t even been on Spock…).

    Just thought it was disturbing.

  • I’ve not heard of any such spam attacks.

  • BTW,

    Spock is opening its doors to the Lunch 2.0 crowd this Wednesday 8/22

    http://www.lunch20.com/2007/08/15/lunch-20-spock-redwood-city/

    So if you have some interesting discussions, you might want to ask them there.