After a lot of market chatter, Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) just unveiled a Social Search Tool called ‘Graph Search.’ This tool will allow the users to look up the Internet with Facebook’s huge database. As a result, users can look up places, movies, interests their own friends and family like. However, it differs from traditional search engine queries as the Graph Search tool can only look up information that has been shared on Facebook by friends. The Graph Search tool will appear as a big search bar at the top of each page on the social media site. This new social search tool is great for users, but disturbing news for competitors, including the likes of Yelp Inc (NYSE:YELP) and Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG).
Takes on new competitors
The socially driven search function of Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB)incorporates four key themes: people, photos, interests and place. All these searches can be conducted on Facebook by relating to friends on the platform, and by looking up based on their friends’ timelines. If the search results are not material, the holes will be filled by Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT)’s Bing.
The Graph search tool can be used by people, to find, sort, and filter individuals in their network based on gender, relationship status, location, etc., all of which can be used to build out a dating portal. As a result, Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) can easily take a stab at IAC/InterActiveCorp’s long list of matchmaking sites. IAC operates a number of popular sites, all of which are operated by subscriptions and/or an advertising based model. Facebook can take a material stab at IAC’s revenue pie, in particular the Advertising-supported piece. Also, the Graph search function can look up users based on their workplace, position, etc., and thus a recruitment platform like LinkedIn can also be developed.
Yelp surely needs help now
Facebook’s search will allow users to filter according to the interests and the places their friends have visited. So, when users look up a restaurant or a movie theater, they would effectively start using the Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB)version as it gives recommendations from friends, as opposed to Yelp’s version of providing reviews from complete strangers. Also, Yelp’s active user base of ~84 million is a mere fraction of Facebook’s 1 billion plus users, and Facebook is already monetizing a large number of small business ads. Yelp’s major source of revenue is the local advertising business (~77%), and this will be hit hard due to the entry of Facebook. In addition, Yelp has been suffering from recurring losses in the face of increased competition from Google+ Local and other review sites.