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Summary:

Google today announced it had acquired Metaweb Technologies, the ambitious startup building a database of all the web’s information called Freebase. Metaweb was yet another semantic web startup before its time, but with the help of Google it can potentially make a much bigger impact.

Google today announced it had acquired Metaweb Technologies, the ambitious startup building a database of all the web’s information called Freebase. Metaweb was yet another semantic web startup before its time, but with the help of Google it now has the potential to make a much bigger impact.

This is Google’s second big search acquisition this month, with the first being ITA Software, which specializes in aggregating and distributing structured data about air travel. While the ITA price tag was $700 million, the Metaweb price was not disclosed.

San Francisco-based Metaweb was founded by the widely admired Thinking Machines founder Danny Hillis (though he is not on Metaweb’s management team, but serves as chairman of the board). It had raised a ton of funding: $57.5 million from Goldman Sachs, Benchmark Capital, DAG Ventures, Omidyar Network, and Millennium Technology Ventures. In addition to the free Freebase, Metaweb offers widgets and more custom integrations for content providers to organize web content around concepts. It calls itself “a switchboard for the web.”

Google said it wants to use Metaweb to help handle complicated and hard-to-understand search queries by getting a better understanding of the 12 million people, places and things in Freebase and how they relate to each other. It will continue to operate Freebase “as a free and open database for the world,” and will be upping the frequency of its regular data dumps to every week. However, Metaweb content widgets will no longer be available to publishers who haven’t used them before, the company said in a blog post.

For more on Google’s visions for the future of search, check out this post on Engadget about a talk by the company’s Amit Singhal. Good weekend reading!

  1. Probably an asset/HR sale and not anything else, which means that this was a financial failure. Too bad because they had very high hopes over there.

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    1. It was an awful lot of money they raised. But if it gets the right love within Google it could get a good second wind.

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  2. Steve Ardire Friday, July 16, 2010

    viscaheel got it right and agree with Liz that GOOG gives it best chance of making something of substance from a flawed or no REAL business model ;)

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  3. [...] semantischen Suchfunktionen soll sich das ändern. Und eine aktuelle Akquisition von Google könnte die Entwicklung der semantischen Suche weit voranbringen. Der Internetriese gab [...]

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  4. What would be even more newsworthy would be a company other than Google buying this up. Say for example..The media would go crazy if Facebook bought it, since rumors keep flying about Facebook starting it’s own search engine. :P

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  5. [...] Google Gets Semantic: Buys Metaweb [...]

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  6. [...] reach a tipping point? July 27, 2010 tags: Google, semantic, web by conradwai Last week, Google bought Metaweb, a semantic web startup. This could end up being just a technology and human capital purchase, but [...]

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  7. [...] fascinating side project of the travel company ITA that Google just acquired, and Google also just bought Metaweb and its open database Freebase. Other competitors include Wolfram Alpha, Socrata and [...]

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