Reunion.com and Wink merge to form new people search site

Reunion.com, a social network of sorts that aggregates data about you, is merging with people-focused search engine Wink. The two companies will relaunch as a single, branded people search service early next year. They already made a strategic partnership last year, and Reunion.com began providing Wink‘s search engine on its site then.

Los Angeles-based Reunion.com started in 2002 as more of a social network than what it is today. Since then, it has collected user information directly from users, crawled the web and bought publicly available data from other companies, chief executive Jeff Tinsley tells me. Today, the company has more than 500 million user profiles. Mountain View, Calif.-based Wink, meanwhile, has 200 million profiles based on composites of data it has collected from social networks and other sites.

These profiles may include information made searchable by social networks that you’re a part of, like your public profile on Facebook or LinkedIn, or any of 60 other sources. The companies match up pieces of data from various sources to figure out things like your age, your work history and the city you live in.

The opportunity, Tinsley claims, is that there are currently more than five billion searches happening on the web every month, and only a fifth are happening on Google and other major search engines. Reunion.com has nearly 50 million registered users, and gets 14 million unique users a month, according to comScore. Traffic comes from various forms of advertising, viral growth, etc. As with many people search companies, Reunion.com has not been without controversy. It has occasionally been nailed by reportersand by the Better Business Bureau — for sending spammy emails that trick people into inviting their friends to join the site. This is an all-too-common method used by web services to grow virally; let’s hope the Wink-Reunion entity won’t have these problems.

Reunion.com is making $55 million in revenue this year, according to Tinsley, and expects to make more than $100 million based on its merger with Wink and a distribution deal for the two companies’ combined people search product.

Oak Investment Partners put a $25 million first round of funding into Reunion.com last year. Wink has received backing from Greylock Partners, although its management bought back some shares; its angel investors include Reid Hoffman, Peter Thiel and Richard Rosenblatt.