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Google acquires social search engine Aardvark

Aardvark provides answers to detailed questions from a social network, such as, "Why does Google want to add Aardvark's technology to its arsenal?"

Aardvark, a social-search company, is joining Google.
Screenshot by Tom Krazit/CNET

Google has acquired social-search provider Aardvark, right on the heels of the company's Google Buzz announcement.

Google declined to share financial terms of the deal, but TechCrunch reported that Google paid $50 million for the start-up. "We have signed a definitive agreement to acquire Aardvark, but we don't have any additional details to share right now," a company representative said in a statement.

Aardvark's search engine scans the profiles of people you've designated as friends in an attempt to match their expertise or interests with a query, such as, "What's the best restaurant in Austin?" Friends from San Francisco might not know that, but friends in Texas could certainly answer that question. Aardvark lets you choose topics on which you're willing to be questioned when you set up your own profile.

The technology could help improve Google Buzz, which launched earlier this week. Reaction so far has been tepid--especially since Google chose to expose everyone's followers and their e-mail addresses as the default setting--but Aardvark's technology could make the service more useful by connecting friends of friends to produce useful information.

Aardvark is based in San Francisco and is run by several former Googlers. The deal is expected to be finalized over the next several days.