Finding Adam Nash: Google, ZoomInfo, LinkedIn

I’ve been thinking a bit about how people find people online.  To sample, I tried three different services: Google, ZoomInfo, and LinkedIn.  I wanted to get a sense of three different approaches to online people search.

Let’s start with web search!  Google doesn’t really focus on people as a first-class entity, so it basically just aggregates web pages based on its algorithms for content relevance.

When I search for Adam Nash on Google, I get the following:

The results are pretty good… for me, at least.  4 of the top 5 links are actually my pages.  The top two are this blog.  The fourth is my old homepage at Stanford, and the fifth is my current personal home page.

Of course, none of these pages would give you excellent data about me, really, but they all contain pointers to good, deep information.

Next up, ZoomInfo, and the magic of web scraping & aggregation.  I did the search and was surprised to find 52 reconds for Adam Nash.  Even more surprising, 6 of them look like they are pieces of my history, but in a mish-mash that combine strange pieces of data.  In some cases, my data is mixed with someone elses.

Here are the 6 versions of Adam Nash in ZoomInfo that I can verify should really be one version: me.

What a mess.  It’s not that the information there isn’t partially correct, it is (or was), and it’s interesting to see some of the articles scraped together.  But the fragmentation is terrible, and I’m almost offended to see my picture on top of information for someone else.  Certainly, anyone looking for me on ZoomInfo would have a very hard time figuring out who I was, or what I was doing with any accuracy.

Now, of course, our user-generated content site, LinkedIn.  Here is the search I get back when I’m logged onto the site:

Ok, Ok, that’s cheating 🙂  But that’s close to what anyone in my broad network would see (over 1.4M members).  The data is correct and up-to-date.

How about a public search on LinkedIn, with no LinkedIn account at all?  Also good:

The first link there is mine.  Clean results, correct information.  You can’t beat my public profile for accurate and relevant professional information.

Not surprisingly, I think this indicates the strengths of the different mechanisms for finding people online today.  Google, representing natural search, does a decent job focusing on existing content.  LinkedIn, representing user-generated content, does a fantastic job of accuracy and relevancy.  ZoomInfo, representing aggregated web scraping, seems to have a ways to go before it will a trustworthy directory.

As always, your mileage may vary.

Missing eBay Live 2007 in Boston

This is the first time in four years that I’m not at eBay Live, and I have to admit, I’m missing it.

Well, of course the eBay Chatter has a play-by-play on their blog, and there is a website that is hosting a replay of the 2007 keynote.  But it’s not like being there.

My first eBay Live was in 2004, in New Orleans.  I was helping out generally, working the Business & Industrial and Sports category booths, and teaching classes to sellers interested in selling in bulk lots on eBay.  I had just delivered some key platform enhancements in this area, and was very excited to be giving my first eBay Live class.  Imagine my surprise when over 300 people turned up for the first session (standing room only!)   The funniest moment was two minutes before we were about to start, Jeff Jordan walked in the room and looked a little surprised.

“What class is this?!?” he asked me.

“Buying & Selling in Lots on eBay” I said.



The secret to a great class at eBay Live was focusing not on what eBay wanted to tell members, but about what members wanted to hear from eBay.  Selling in bulk was something that many sellers at the time were experimenting with at the time, and for good reason.  It was a way to source supply, a way to move out stagnant inventory, and a way to potentially sell new classes of inexpensive goods on the platform.  You’re not going to sell 1 can of tennis balls on eBay, but you might sell a case of 24.

I taught classes at eBay Live 2005 in San Jose, and at eBay Live 2006.  Of course, for me, 2006 was the highlight, as we rolled out eBay Express broadly to the community.  In fact, I believe the 2006 eBay Live class on eBay Express is still available online, right here.

Lara Housser & Christophe Gillet are giving the eBay Express classes this year, and there is a lot of great material in those classes.  I think a lot of people are going to be surprised with the success-to-date for the site.

Despite the incredibly long hours on your feet, and the incredibly early mornings and late nights, there is a bit of magic to eBay Live, and I have to admit that I’m missing it this year.

Of course, that’s the trade-off you make when you take on a new opportunity – you have to leave another behind.  I can’t tell you how excited I am about my new role and my new company.  The opportunity at LinkedIn is incredible, and the people are amazing to work with.

But I’m feeling nostalgic tonight, so good luck to the eBay team in Boston this week.

P.S.  In a weird twist of events, “Lara Housser” has become one of the top ten search queries leading to this blog.  Lara, if you are reading, you may want to update your LinkedIn public profile… people are clearly looking for you.  🙂