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Identified launched a search engine for professionals today, in a move that makes the founders either a) crazy  b) smart or c) both. The startup will be competing with giant social network LinkedIn for the attention, and participation, of people busy at work or busy looking for work.

“There are a bunch of problems with LinkedIn,” said Brendan Wallace, co-Founder and CEO of Identified, in a VentureBeat interview (pictured on the left). “They don’t give you relevant results. They just give you lots of results. We see a better opportunity to do what LinkedIn wanted to do.”

Identified’s goal is to create a professional search engine that helps people connect with companies and vice versa. It uses Facebook’s professional information to create 50 million professional, company and university profiles. Instead of returning a ton of data when you search for a person or company, Identified strives to provide relevance.

Wallace says Identified is based on a professional graph, unlike Facebook which is based on a social graph. Some would say that makes Facebook a less-than-ideal place to harvest professional information. Less than 50 percent of Facebook profiles contain professional information, reports Tech Crunch, but Wallace said this isn’t the case.

“We’re seeing closer to 80 percent,” he said. “For people in their 20s, it’s like 90 percent. Sixty percent of people under 30 are filling out their work profile information on Facebook and this information is kept up to date, unlike on LinkedIn where people only login and update when they are looking for a job.”

Identified uses search algorithms to filter millions of user profiles by assigning a relevance score, similar to the way Google assigns websites a page rank. Relevance scores are based on where you studied, degree level, work experience and the quantity and quality of your social network.

Companies and schools are also scored with this algorithm, with is constantly recalculating. An institution’s score is the weighted average of the scores of its members.

“On LinkedIn, there’s no way to interact with a company,” said Wallace. “Using the interactive Facebook ecosystem, you can introduce the identity of tens of thousands of companies and universities to professionals.”

Identified says hundreds of companies already use the service to search for professionals, including Google, Disney, Sequoia Capital and MTV.

Wallace founded Identified with fellow Stanford Graduate School of Business grad Adeyemi Ajao (pictured on the right) in 2010. They have raised $5.5 million from Tim and Bill Draper, Eric Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors and a handful of angel investors. That’s the kind of seed funding and investor portfolio that makes a company look more smart than crazy.

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