Shake-up on Twitter's search team as director leaves

Twitter’s director of search Doug Cook has departed the company after less than a year at the helm of the team. The company has staffed up heavily over the past few months, attracting early Googlers with expertise on scalability issues to search.

The company’s search team may have split into two, squeezing Cook out, according to TechCrunch. Another reason behind Cook’s move may be that, aside from putting popular and sponsored tweets atop results earlier this spring, the site’s search engine has had very few visible changes over the past two years. Twitter gained a prominent search engine in 2008 when it acquired Summize.

Search forms the core of the company’s emerging revenue model for the time being. By ComScore metrics (which are far from perfect), Twitter’s search engine may support more queries than Yahoo and Microsoft combined at 600 million searches a day. Twitter launched search ads at its developer conference last month; brands will pay to have tweets atop results. But, unlike Google’s search results, they’ll disappear if they don’t attract a lot of interaction from users.

Cook was a vice president of engineering at Yahoo and before that, at Inktomi. He also runs a wine search engine called AbleGrape that lets users do deep dives into vintages and varietals.

As Twitter grows up, a few of its high-profile early employees are leaving; infrastructure engineer Alex Payne, who helped shape the service’s application programming interface, left to join BankSimple earlier this month.

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