Imagine a search engine that truly knew you. No, not in the way that Google or Bing personalize their search results based upon your history and preferences – what if a search engine could take the information that you give about yourself as well as the information that your friends and family put in and cater your search results around your most likely goals and desires from the search? Would you use it?
Every few months something happens that brings on a flurry of blog posts about how Google’s long-standing domination in web search may be coming to an end. They never pan out and this might fall into the same category, but it is the highest-potential threat that’s come along in a while, possibly ever. Facebook has two things going for it – immense stores of data about us and unbeatable levels of attention from its users. Many people are connected to Facebook throughout their waking hours.
They can’t stand on their own. Despite the desire to get out of the ten-year deal with Bing, they do not have the clout or programming talent to survive without them. A deal with Facebook would potentially give them the clout they need and the ability to bring in more talent. They would be propelled from the junior search component of the team to the leader in the new alliance, something that may be appealing from a status perspective even if the sacrifices may hurt them short-term.
Facebook has coveted search for a long time. There was once speculation that they may even buy Bing, but that never became a reality and likely never will. Their choices are to continue their own development of search or partner with Yahoo. It’s unlikely that their status as a public company would allow them to buy Yahoo outright, but a strong partnership forged through mutual benefit is not only appealing, it may be enough to solve some of Facebook’s revenue problems while bringing Yahoo into a state of prominence again.
Rumors are often exciting to discuss but in Silicon Valley they’re a dime a dozen. This one seems different for one reason: it makes total sense for both of the parties involved. Google and Microsoft should be worried.