Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to Wield Meta Search for Good

July 6, 2017

Mark Zuckerberg’s and Priscilla Chan’s philanthropic project, aptly named the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI), is beginning its mission with a compelling step—it has acquired Meta, a search engine built specifically for scientific research. TechCrunch examines the acquisition in, “Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Acquires, and Will Free Up, Science Search Engine Meta.”

Researchers face a uniquely mind-boggling amount of data in their work. The article notes, for example, that between 2,000 and 4,000 scientific papers are published daily in the field of biomedicine alone. The article includes a helpful one-and-a-half minute video explaining the platform’s capabilities. Reporter Josh Constine emphasizes:

What’s special about Meta is that its AI recognizes authors and citations between papers so it can surface the most important research instead of just what has the best SEO. It also provides free full-text access to 18,000 journals and literature sources. …


Meta, formerly known as Sciencescape, indexes entire repositories of papers like PubMed and crawls the web, identifying and building profiles for the authors while analyzing who cites or links to what. It’s effectively Google PageRank for science, making it simple to discover relevant papers and prioritize which to read. It even adapts to provide feeds of updates on newly published research related to your previous searches.

The price CZI paid for the startup was not disclosed. Though Meta has charged some users in the past (for subscriptions or customizations), CEO Sam Molyneux promises the platform will be available for free once the transition is complete; he assures us:

Going forward, our intent is not to profit from Meta’s data and capabilities; instead we aim to ensure they get to those who need them most, across sectors and as quickly as possible, for the benefit of the world.

Molyneux posted a heartfelt letter detailing his company’s history and his hopes for the future, so the curious should take a gander. He and his sister Amy founded Meta in Toronto in 2010. Not surprisingly, they are currently hiring.

Cynthia Murrell, July 6, 2017


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