Julpan, a New York-based social search startup founded by former Google scientist Ori Allon, announced today that it has been acquired by Twitter. Julpan algorithmically analyzes social Web activity to make search results personally relevant.
With hundreds of millions of tweets per day, Twitter needs smart personalization algorithms to make sure its search results are relevant far beyond simple keyword matches. This acquisition will help Twitter keep the value of search inside its own properties.
Orion, Google and Julpan
Allon built the Orion search engine, a technology that pioneered relevance and related terms in keyword search, which was purchased by Google in 2006. Allon, who was still a doctoral student at the time, was hired by Google to implement the technology. Google announced the completed integration in 2009.
Last year, Allon left Google to found Julpan and continue developing new social search technologies. Allon says that Julpan's technology is still in the "early-alpha-stage," but acquisition by Twitter and integration into a platform will mark Julpan's next phase. Twitter has made Allon a director of engineering.
Twitter's Search History
In 2008, Twitter acquired some real-time search technology from Summize and eventually integrated it into its own site. Twitter and Google arranged to share real-time data in 2009, giving Google powerful access to social data and in turn driving Web searchers to Twitter. But that deal expired this summer and was not renewed. Google wants to personalize search with its own social signals from Plus, and Twitter needed to find its own social search solution. Today's acquisition of Julpan is a step in that direction.
The Importance of Social Search
Social search is an important market because it's the key to personalized relevance. Google and Bing are both deeply invested. Bing has Facebook integration, and Google has rolled Plus posts straight into search results, giving both search powerhouses all kinds of social signals. In fact, since Google indexes tweets, it's often a better way to search Twitter than Twitter itself.
Startups are also popping up that are completely dedicated to social search. Wajam recently added Google Plus to its arsenal of social tools, and its search bar brings personalization to all kinds of sites - like Wikipedia and eBay - not just Web searches. Moreover, there are all kinds of dedicated Twitter Search tools that provide much richer results and data than Twitter's own search bar. But with Ori Allon's expertise and Julpan's software under the hood, Twitter will try to regain its advantage with better relevance.
What do you think of personalized search results? Let's discuss in the comments.