Google Buys Aardvark for $50M

Google (s GOOG) has acquired the social search startup Aardvark for $50 million, according to TechCrunch. We’ve asked both companies for comment, as well as our friends and friends of friends on Aardvark (that’s what it does), but haven’t gotten official confirmation. Update 10:40 a.m. PT: Aardvark co-founder Damon Horowitz confirms the company has been acquired.

The Aardvark founders had formerly worked at Google, so this will be a lucrative return to the fold. On the other hand, it’s an embarrassment for Google that it couldn’t foster the same kind of innovation from them internally.

Aardvark raised $6 million from August Capital and Baseline Ventures in September 2008. Interestingly, it launched on instant messenger and the iPhone (s aapl) before making its way to the web.

As of October 2009, Aardvark said it had 90,000 users, with more than half of them having asked or answered a question. Eighty-eight percent of questions had been answered, and 60 percent within 10 minutes.

Update: Here’s a video interview with Aardvark co-founder Max Ventilla from our What’s Next for the Web? Bunker event back in October. Here he talks about the future of his service, what it’s like being a startup in the real-time space, and springboarding innnovation from existing platforms.