Twitter acquired Summize, a search service that was built from the foundation of Twitter for $15 million. Considering that Summize simply aggregated content provided by Twitter and aggressively cached it so people could access it quickly — that seems about the right amount of value for the startup.
Initially, the rumor was first leaked by UK Blogger, Josh Chandler. Not many blogs picked it up due to his lack of credibility, but I suspect his credibility got raised today. Officially announced, here, Twitter is excited to leverage Summize’s search technology, in fact, Summize.com already redirects to search.twitter.com.
On another note, this validates the fact that AOL [still] fails to tap into the organic talent found within their mountainous org-structures. Based on another interview with Twitter co-founder, Evan Williams, it seems they picked up some former AOL Search talent. Here is a clipping from that interview:
Evan Williams: Sure, so we started talking to Summize 2 or 3 months ago, shortly after they released their twitter search, which a lot of people have seen, it’s gotten pretty popular. There are a few twitter search engines out there, but Summize was just really impressive with their user interface, the quality of the search, and a bunch of features they had. We were actually looking before that to build search into twitter, we were talking to some partners about that, we didn’t think we wanted to take on building that ourselves. And while we were actually going down the road with another partner, which I can’t disclose..
Michael Arrington: That partner was going to help you build it for yourselves?
EW: Yea, we were basically going to outsource it to them. And it was a big internet company, and Summize came up, and happened to be connected with John Borthwick and Betaworks in New York, who I was friends with. So we started talking…
MA: John was an investor in Pyra.
EW: John was an investor and advisor to Pyra so I’ve known him for 10 years. It turns out that all the Summize guys were all ex AOL guys and most of them were ex AOL search guys, John was ex AOL. So anyways, we started talking and we really liked them and started exploring..
Could AOL have powered Twitter? Possibly, if HR stopped swinging their scythe so strongly and actually embraced their employee’s contributions. AOL would have been a perfect match for Twitter — scalability, speed, a decent CDN, monetization opportunities, and even leverage more than 63 million OpenIDs. (Even, AIM Status Updates could be simulcast on Twitter, assuming they flawlessly executed on it.)
A while back, the once-number-one ISP, who sank further into the depths of the Web and were kind enough to release some creative people from their Search team (among 2500+ others) into the wild via the flawless form of a severance check, a few boxes and a place to toss their badge and Secure ID into labeled bins Auschwitz-style. Anyhow, the great part of pink-slips the discovery of the far-undervalued appraisal of an employee’s capability.
A gang of those former AOL Search employees formed a great startup. If there are two things they collectively mastered, it’s user-experience and speed/caching. Even if the product was poorly-led, the tech folks that built it really knew their stuff.
Now, Twitter can focus on building additional functionality, such as exploring new system stability enhancements, new features and even deeper social media value for users. Lately, Twitter has been more stable than previously, but at the same time I’m noticing more illegitimate spam accounts “follow” me.
Editorial note: I re-emphasized my thoughts on the 2006, 2007 AOL ‘Restructurings’ in support of those still there and those who aren’t. Kudos to current and former staff who are able to fully leverage their talents, if not, hopefully this is some inspiration.