Spock, a start-up that wants to make it easier to find personal information about people on the web, has launched its private beta.
Type in a name, and Spock says it can serve up a picture, address, occupation, interests and other information. Conversely, you can type in an occupation and location ("Rodeo Clown, Lubbock") and it will spit up people that fit that category.
The company is part of a wave of vertical search engines that hone in a particular topic--product reviews, want ads, news that is moving the stock market--and make the information more digestible than the results that might show up on Google or Yahoo.
"I've seen a lot of companies in data rationalization," said Jim Armstrong, a managing director at Clearstone Venture Partners, during a telephone call. Clearstone has invested in the company.
So far, automated name directories have not been easy to put together. has created a headhunting search engine that finds names and builds out an automated resume of that person. But in my own personal tests of ZoomInfo's deluxe service, I found more information about individuals on Google than through their service. ZoomInfo also churned up mistakes.
LinkedIn is one of the companies to date that has come closest to developing a people engine, but trolling through there is mostly a manual process.
Spock's public beta hasn't started, but the founders told VentureBeat that it will have 100 million profiles.
No word on whether Leonard Nimoy is filing suit against them yet. Oh, humans, you are so irrational.