The Mechanical Zoo, a social search startup founded by a team of former Google employees, has raised $6 million in a first round of funding.

Like many other companies, such as Delver and AskMeGo, The Mechanical Zoo says it’s trying to tailor web search results to personal tastes by tapping into a user’s “social graph”. What does that actually mean? As the company puts it, the service will help users “identify the right person, among the tens of thousands in [their] extended network, to answer a particular question.”

So is there any reason to think The Mechanical Zoo will stand out from the pack? Well, there’s the pedigree — the founding team consists of Nathan Stoll, former product lead at Google News, as well Max Ventilla, formerly of Google business development, and Damon Horowitz, former lead engineer at early search company Perspecta. A star team doesn’t guarantee a knockout product, however, as we saw with search startup Cuil. Also, you know who has a really strong team of Googlers? Google. And Google’s Marissa Mayer has told us that social search is the future.

On the other hand, TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington reports that the response to the company’s private beta test has been wildly enthusiastic.

The funding was led by August Capital, with participation from Baseline Ventures and undisclosed angel investors.

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