Will Google Pursue Chillaxn’s Social Application Patent?

Last August, Google announced that they had purchased social network application creator Slide, in a post titled Google and Slide: building a more social web. Since then, Slide appears to have been running independently of Google, to the point where they’ve launched a Group Texting application named Disco.

While searching through patents granted this week, one of the titles grabbed my attention. System for targeting third party content to users based on social networks (US Patent 7,941,535) was granted on May 10, 2011 and originally filed back on May 7, 2008. It’s not assigned to Google, or even Slide, but one of the inventors named on the patent, Doug Sherrets, has been a Slide employee since 2007. His LinkedIn profile also discloses that he has been a Facebook Shareholder since 2005.

A social search and networking interface that includes a column showing where friends had recently visited, and where they've left comments or ratings or posts.

Co-inventor Alex Mittal appears to have attended The Wharton School around the same time as Doug Sherrets, according to his LinkedIn profile, and his profile lists him as a Co-Founder of a company named Chillaxn, and describes his role at the company on the profile as, “Led social software company that shot for the fences.”

The patent doesn’t mention Chillaxn, but the images from the patent include the Chillaxn name upon them. The images, and how they incorporate social information into a user interface are interesting.

Another Chillaxn screen that shows multiple tabs, and a way to filter places that friends have visited, posted, commented upon, or rated.

The Chillaxn patent presents a sophisticated way of tracking information about first level contacts in social networks, or friends, and second and higher level contacts, or friends of friends, and how they use the Web.

It allows for some anonymous sending of messages to others, as well as determining which messages to show based upon factors such as:

  1. Response time to past messages
  2. How the user receiving the message is connected to the user sending the message
  3. A message topic, one or more message topics that garnered a response in the past
  4. A number of messages the recipient has received or sent
  5. A number of messages the sender has received/sent, and
  6. Internet usage data of possible recipients to identify users with topic area interest or expertise; and prioritizing at least a portion of the messages sent by users to other users based on the metric for determining the likelihood of user response

This social network would record and report upon web pages visited by its users, and determine which users belong to the same social networks to connect them.

It would display and sort links to those pages based upon factors such as:

  1. The type of file to which the links point
  2. The content of the file, or
  3. The category to which the file belongs

The links could also be sorted chronologically or reverse chronologically, as well as by numbers of user views, user comments, and user activities such as purchases or user ratings. Profiles for friends or friends of friends might also be listed and linked to on other social networks (see the screenshots above for some examples).

A fairly wide range of other types of data is described which could be used to sort or filter how information is displayed. The patent provides a very detailed look at a social interface that definitely “shot for the fences.”

Chillaxn is no longer around, with Alex Mittal’s LinkedIn profile noting that he ended his role as co-founder in May 2007.

Alexander Mittal has moved on to become a founder of what appear to be some interesting endeavors in Crederity and nanotechnology startup Innova Dynamics.

Doug Sherrets joined Slide at the end of 2007.

The Chillaxn patent was granted in the names of its inventors, without an assignment to Chillaxn, or to any other company.

With Doug Sherrit’s connection to Google, it’s possible that some of the ideas from that patent might end up in an application from Slide or Google. With Alex Mittal’s recent success if starting companies, it might form the roots of a new social network company, based upon the roots of the old one.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a Google patent that described a mobile-based social hub interface for viewing social messages in A Hint of What Google’s Social Network Might Look Like?.

The screenshots from the Chillaxn patent show a slightly different, but also interesting approach.

Will Chillaxn rise again? Will Google become Chillax’d?

Will this social network approach show up somewhere else, or will it remain a dream unrealized?

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8 thoughts on “Will Google Pursue Chillaxn’s Social Application Patent?”

  1. I remember reading about Chillaxn a while back and this is a great post, brings it back into my mind again after not thinking about it for so long. I definitely think Google will become … Chillax’d … it is a solid fit and really seems like an untapped area in the social marketplace. Technology like this, email marketing started it all I feel, is much needed and will become part of everyday life before we know so no time better than now to start.

  2. Nice. It is really tons of great and interesting stuff. Thank you very much for putting all these great information together.

  3. Hi John,

    Thanks. I tried searching for some information about Chillaxn before writing this post, and I really wasn’t turning up much in the search results that seemed to refer to their social application or network or the company itself. I’m not sure that they had much of a presence on the Web. It’s possible that Google may see some value in the patent that Doug Sherrets and Alex Mittal were granted, but we can’t be sure that Google isn’t already headed down some other path.

  4. Yesterday I was reading about someone recommending that you sign out of facebook every time you finish using it, because facebook can track you around the internet everywhere a facebook ‘like’ button appears. I’m not sure in the truth of this or if it was more paranoia.

    However, with the recent track record of data privacy the potential uses of this patient concern me a little, it’s a great idea to connect people but in the wrong hands the data could be extremely valuable and destructive. Imagine start ups and organisations connecting and discussing their new ground breaking projects, then how interesting it would be for larger corporations or competitors to gain access to that data.

    Certainly one to watch.

  5. Definitely agree with Lee’s comments; we’re all excited by social search but there are some concerning implications for privacy and data protection.

    This is certainly an interesting patent, though I think we’ll have to wait before we can understand its true potential.

  6. Hi Lee,

    Interesting suggestion. I would suspect that Facebook could, and might do something like that.

    There definitely are privacy and business concerns related to information sharing of this type, and it probably wouldn’t be a good thing for someone doing corporate research to share their searches with people who might be tempted to use that information while competiting with them. Something that we all should be careful of.

  7. Hi Jude,

    Not sure that we will see this particular patent in action, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw some similar ideas appear in whatever Google may decide to launch as a social hub or network.

    Many of the privacy concerns that we see people write about when it comes to social networks tend to revolve around personal privacy, but I agree with you and Lee that there are some considerable business risks as well.

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