Pinterest said today that it has acquired Jelly, a bad 4-year-old search engine, for an undisclosed sum. Jelly, which was created by Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, tried to reimagine search as a social question-and-answer network. Instead of relying on Google for hard-to-answer questions like “what are some child-friendly places to go in Fresno this weekend,” Jelly would attempt to route your questions to people who might know. After several minutes, it would then give you an answer that typically did not improve meaningfully on Google search results. It was a disaster.
The thing is, Pinterest is a great search engine for many of the things Google is bad at. Ask Google to show you couches or dresses or bullet journals and your search results will have been SEO’d straight to hell: you’re getting ads disguised as answers. Pinterest, on the other hand, only includes items that have been put there by human beings, and the results are often much more satisfying. In many ways, search is the most compelling part of Pinterest as a business — it’s powerful and hard to replicate. Its new feature Lens, a kind of Shazam for products in the real world, is one of my favorite tech demos of the past year.
If you searched Jelly for couches or dresses, on the other hand, you would have waited a few minutes and then got some links via email. But Pinterest says the acquisition will “accelerate our efforts in building the world's first visual discovery engine.”
The deal seems to have been more of an “acqui-hire” for Pinterest — a way of buying some talent to work on a specific problem. Finkel is joining the “growth product team,” a spokeswoman said, and Stone — a Pinterest investor, incidentally — is becoming a “special adviser” to Evan Sharp, Pinterest’s co-founder and chief product officer.
Courtesy of TheVerge