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April 2010 Damon Horowitz dhoro@google.com Max Ventilla mventilla@google.com, @ventilla
Our Product
Web Search is great for objective questions, but subjective questions generate the majority of search revenues Queries X00B/yr Search quality Examples RPMs  What is Einstein’s birthday? ~45% Objective Great  Low  How much is the cheapest iPhone? What’s a decent housekeeping service in SF? How much should it cost for a small two bedroom place? ~30% Research What’s a good book to read about Romantic Poets? ~25% Opinion  High Ok
Friends can answer subjective questions but… Unreliable -- small number of friends available to you in the moment Hard to keep up with what your extended network knows about Social cost of asking for a favor
Aardvark is a new type of social search
Why social search? ,[object Object]
Most content is still locked in peoples' heads
Each individual’s network is growing exponentially
Social intimacy makes information actionable 
Questions about how to spend your time and money are subjective and highly lucrative,[object Object]
Startups take a while…
…and they generally fail “In a startup, the chance of anything good is always under 50%” -Mike Cassidy (Ruba)  .
Minimize Risk Maximize Trials Be Patient
Our Timeline
Conception0.5 Years Picked a problem Prototyped in serial Abandoned
Rekkit - A service to collect your ratings from across the web and give better recommendations to you.  Ninjapa - A way that you could open accounts in various applications through a single website and manage your data across multiple sites. The Webb - A central number that you could call and talk to a person who could do anything for you that you could do online.  Web Macros - A way to record sequences of steps on websites so that you could repeat common actions, even across sites, and share "recipes" for how you accomplished online tasks. Internet Button Company - A way to package steps taken on a website and smart form-fill functionality. People could encode buttons and share buttons a la social bookmarking.
Implementation1 Year Raised seed financing Wizard of Oz testing Recruited core team
Full Human Judgment Constrained Actions Automation Rote Tasks Action with Approval Prediction Logging February 2009 June 2009 August 2009 September 2009
Refinement1 Year Raised series A Extensive refinement Tripled team
The goal is eventual product / market fit Focus on acceleration
Our Process
Maximize the quantity and impact of trials Process is king

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Aardvark case study from #sllconf by Max Ventilla and Damon Horowitz

  • 1. April 2010 Damon Horowitz dhoro@google.com Max Ventilla mventilla@google.com, @ventilla
  • 3. Web Search is great for objective questions, but subjective questions generate the majority of search revenues Queries X00B/yr Search quality Examples RPMs  What is Einstein’s birthday? ~45% Objective Great  Low  How much is the cheapest iPhone? What’s a decent housekeeping service in SF? How much should it cost for a small two bedroom place? ~30% Research What’s a good book to read about Romantic Poets? ~25% Opinion  High Ok
  • 4. Friends can answer subjective questions but… Unreliable -- small number of friends available to you in the moment Hard to keep up with what your extended network knows about Social cost of asking for a favor
  • 5. Aardvark is a new type of social search
  • 6.
  • 7. Most content is still locked in peoples' heads
  • 8. Each individual’s network is growing exponentially
  • 9. Social intimacy makes information actionable 
  • 10.
  • 11. Startups take a while…
  • 12. …and they generally fail “In a startup, the chance of anything good is always under 50%” -Mike Cassidy (Ruba) .
  • 13. Minimize Risk Maximize Trials Be Patient
  • 15. Conception0.5 Years Picked a problem Prototyped in serial Abandoned
  • 16. Rekkit - A service to collect your ratings from across the web and give better recommendations to you. Ninjapa - A way that you could open accounts in various applications through a single website and manage your data across multiple sites. The Webb - A central number that you could call and talk to a person who could do anything for you that you could do online. Web Macros - A way to record sequences of steps on websites so that you could repeat common actions, even across sites, and share "recipes" for how you accomplished online tasks. Internet Button Company - A way to package steps taken on a website and smart form-fill functionality. People could encode buttons and share buttons a la social bookmarking.
  • 17.
  • 18. Implementation1 Year Raised seed financing Wizard of Oz testing Recruited core team
  • 19. Full Human Judgment Constrained Actions Automation Rote Tasks Action with Approval Prediction Logging February 2009 June 2009 August 2009 September 2009
  • 20. Refinement1 Year Raised series A Extensive refinement Tripled team
  • 21.
  • 22. The goal is eventual product / market fit Focus on acceleration
  • 24. Maximize the quantity and impact of trials Process is king
  • 25.
  • 26. Process: Assume that you are wrong Make continuous improvement the goal Experiment with process as much as product Hire and indoctrinate to support process
  • 27. Learning: exploit collective wisdom Task people to collect and disseminate learning Set aside regular time for discussion Make transparency the default
  • 28. Thank You White paper on Aardvark Social Search (vark.com/aardvarkfinalwww2010.pdf) How we do qualitative user research at Aardvark (http://blog.vark.com/?p=314) Our approach to design and development processes (http://blog.vark.com/?p=49) Preaching User-Driven Design (http://ventilla.posterous.com/preaching-user-driven-design)