Searching for information about people is one of the most common things people do on the web. Look at any of the query reporting services, such as Google's Zeitgeist, the Lycos 50 or the Yahoo Buzz Index, and the names of celebrities or notorious people invariably crowd the top the lists.
Searching for information about people you know, like friends, neighbors, ex-lovers (and admit it—yourself!) is such a common activity on Google that it has become a verb. Problem is, Googling someone who hasn't accumulated a lot of PageRank or other Google cred du jour is at best a crapshoot, with results that make it all but impossible to distinguish between John Doe and Jon Doh.
ZoomInfo was created specifically to help searchers locate accurate, reliable information about people. The service crawls the web much like others search engine, but focuses on information about people. Using a combination of artificial intelligence and natural language techniques, ZoomInfo connects information about individuals from disparate sources and gradually builds up online resumes that include employment information, educational background and other details.
It's a useful service, but not without flaws. ZoomInfo profiles are assembled by machine algorithms, without any human or editorial intervention, they essentially amount to a "best guess" collection of anecdotal information about individuals.
Others have found more serious flaws in their profiles. Searchblog author John Battelle, for example, found ZoomInfo reported that he was the founder of WebMD, CEO of Northern Light and CEO of A9 among many others. Battelle is no slouch—he was a co-founder of Wired Magazine, publisher of the Industry Standard, etc. But ZoomInfo mistakenly bloated his vita in bizarre ways.
ZoomInfo provides tools for focusing the scope of your searches, which can be very helpful when searching for information about someone with a common name. Next to every search form is a drop-down menu that allows you to narrow your search for people associated with a particular company or university.
For even more options, the advanced search page lets you find profiles ZoomInfo has collected for all employees associated with a company, alumni from a university or people mentioned on a specific web site.