MENLO PARK, Calif. – Software engineer Lars Rasmussen could be a poster child for the slogan pasted on the walls of Facebook’s headquarters here: Fail Harder.
After getting laid off from his first startup, the Berkeley PhD in computer science teamed up with his brother to make digital maps a platform, hoping to leapfrog Mapquest. In the wake of the dotcom bust, funding was hard to find, but Google liked the idea, and bought the startup. Code Rasmussen developed became the basis for Google Maps.
Rasmussen’s next big idea for Google was Wave, pitched as the follow on to email. It landed hard as a belly flop.
For the last two years he has been at Facebook, where he has been put in charge of search. The social networking giant has long hoped it could find a more personal road into Web data that could accelerate it past archrival Google.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg seeded staff with ideas he liked. Rasmussen presided over several prototypes, one of which he showed to Zuckerberg more than a year ago, as a barely working proof of concept of a natural language querying capability.
“Mark said, ‘You will never get that to work, but if you could it would be awesome,’” recalled Rasmussen, who was motivated by the implicit challenge.
The project started weekly meetings, many of the attended by Zuckerberg. But it was really at the end when the founder got more involved in the project.
“I started getting messages from Mark at 2 a.m., asking us to change this or that,” said Rasmussen. “We use Facebook messages here, not e-mail,” he said.
Google's search engines have totally sucked as a useful tool over the past couple of years.
You can have your "personal" road for search - as an engineer, I don't want anything do with anything that's not UNBIASED, unpaid-for, facts and, preferably, is as socially devoid of BS as the machines I build.
Iniewski, I agree with you! I have been moving away from Facebook use more and more each day. I can't imagine needing to graphically search my friends opinions rather than ASK them (or already know!). This seems to be a non-starter search engine aimed possibly at those who don't interact with their "friends" or don't want to. Maybe this will be next big "Waive" but I am not holding my breath.
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