Sep 16

Check out the full list of Google services and then think about one that’s not on there now but that could be in a big way: Google Soulmate Finder. If you subscribe to the notions that a) there’s a person out there who uniquely complements you and b) it’s possible to qualify/quantify experiences, traits & behaviors to identify that person and match him/her to you, then Google is in probably the best position of anyone to help you find your soul mate.

Here are the four main reasons why they could (and may choose to at some point) pull this off:

  1. Hands down they have the most comprehensive, indexable data set of both explicit and implicit behavioral, personality and intention info in the world. And they have it for a huge population. Folks drink the Google Koolaid in varying degrees (I would be best classified as an intravenous Google Koolaid consumer at this point) but for even the people who only use search, they have access to an incredible amount of material that could be mined for insight into what makes one tick. For instance, for users of Gmail & Google Apps they know: where you’ve been, what you care about, who you correspond with, activities that define you, etc.
  2. Their core expertise is in serving relevant results – they rule at pattern matching and developing algorithms that weight results based on what’s working. Their whole search business revolves around improving the quality of results that are delivered and they have more expertise than anyone on refining results via empirical data.
  3. Were they to offer a matchmaking service they would have access to a pretty interesting feedback loop by virtue of knowing how things worked out. Their matches might suck at first but pretty quickly the AI could validate which algorithms yielded successful results because they’d know which people stayed together. Other matchmaking services have to rely upon explicit input from the participants to know how well the suggestions worked – Google has data that gives them this implicitly. That means the speed and accuracy with which they could iterate their algorithms isn’t gated by reliance upon explicit feedback from participants.
  4. They’re motivated to do things that draw in new users & drive increased usage across all services. Their stated goal is to index the world’s info and make it more accessible. Anything they can do that gets more people hooked on using their services helps their cause. The matchmaking service would be a killer app for both attracting new people and getting existing ones to further embrace all the Google services. If they reliably demonstrated a string of successes in matching people, I guarantee you’d see a bunch of the people that currently subscribe to paid dating sites flock to the Google equivalent if it were a) free and b) more effective. Provided Google sold the story well about “the more you do on our system, the better the quality of our matches will be,” those new users would be heavily motivated to go all-in on using Google services. They would pick up not just new users but die-hard ones motivated by the promise of finding their soulmate.

Now my hunch is that a significant countervailing force here that prevents them from doing this now is the “creepiness factor.” It would make it all too real how much they truly know about you if they were to offer this service today and it might actually have a detrimental effect of driving users to defect from their service. This is definitely something that changes with the times though, we’ve seen the “boiling frog comfort” effect in the last four years with Facebook. Kids growing up today will have never known life without exposing everything via social networks and may be more comfortable with this type of service. At any rate, if you see a heart icon and the “Google Matchmaker” app appear on Google labs, you heard the prediction here first ;-)

3 Responses to “Google could provide the ultimate matchmaking service if it wanted to”

  1. Sean Tierney says:

    yea I thought Marc Chung and Preston Lee were at one point working on an app like that for FB (i believe they dubbed it "Project Creepy"). BTW have you played w/ Faces in the new iPhoto? It's scary how accurately facial recognition is getting- and that's just consumer grade. I can't imagine how well the military/govt-grade grade stuff works now. Crazy stuff.

  2. Great article. Maybe you should present your idea to Google. But they have probably already thought about it. The creepiness factor will be absolutely no problem in a few years. But I'm not sure if I think it's cool or creepy.

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