Twitter’s search engine is arguably its most important asset, and the microblogging site has quietly brought in a Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) and Inktomi veteran to run it. Twitter hasn’t formally announced the news — and oddly, it hasn’t even been Tweeted about — but on his LinkedIn profile, Doug Cook says he’s been Twitter’s director of search since July. A Twitter spokeswoman confirms that Cook has joined the company, adding that his position is new. Daniel Tunkelang reports that Cook takes over responsibility for the search engine from Twitter Chief Scientist Abdur Chowdhury. Chowdhury founded search engine Summize, which Twitter purchased last summer.
Cook was a VP of engineering at Yahoo and at Inktomi. More recently, though, he’s been running wine search engine AbleGrape, which says it hopes to be the “world’s most comprehensive, up-to-date, and authoritative source for online wine information.” The search engine doesn’t bring in much traffic, but Tunkelang, who himself is the chief scientist of enterprise search firm Endeca, says it has a number of innovative features, “ranging from how they handle multilingual content to clever use of constrained ‘wildcard’ terms like anyvariety to match any wine variety (aka varietal).”