Google spawns social networking service

Google tip-toed into the hot market of online social networks with the quiet launch of Orkut.com on Thursday.

The search company, which is expected to go public this year, is flexing its power with its Internet fans by constantly offering new services, including comparison shopping and news search. Orkut could be the clearest signal that Google's aspirations don't end with search.

"Orkut is an online trusted community Web site designed for friends. The main goal of our service is to make the social life of yourself and your friends more active and stimulating," according to the Web site, which states that the service is "in affiliation with Google."

A Google representative said that the site is the independent project of one of its engineers, Orkut Buyukkokten, who works on user interface design for Google. Buyukkokten, a computer science doctoral candidate at Stanford University before joining Google, created Orkut.com in the past several months by working on it about one day a week--an amount that Google asks all of its engineers to devote to personal projects. Buyukkokten, with the help of a few other engineers, developed Orkut out of his passion for social networking services.

Google spokeswoman Eileen Rodriquez said that despite Orkut's affiliation, the service is not part of Google's product portfolio at this time. "We're always looking at opportunities to expand our search products, but we currently have no plans in the social networking market."

Still, Google owns the technology developed by its employees, Rodriquez said.

News source: CNET News - Google spawns social networking service

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