One day in December I was visiting family and picked up my niece Xander from daycare. We had to leave before her balloon got turned into an animal. It was disappointing. So when we got back to her house, I pulled out my iPhone and showed her an app called Aardvark. We asked Aardvark how we could turn one long balloon into a balloon animal. My niece jumped up and down with excitement every time we got an iPhone push notification that someone out on the internet had an answer to offer. The first 3 people said "draw eyes on it and call it a snake." That was funny the first time. Then, someone came through with a great link to good instructions for making a balloon animal. We made one, we were happy and proud, and we'd become the kind of people who knew how to make balloon animals. A month later, Xander was visiting my house and we gave her a package of balloons. She whipped up a giraffe, a horse and a princess crown in minutes. Her mom asked her how she did it and you know what she said? "The Aardvark taught me how to do it!" Google announced today that it bought the company that made that iPhone app. It feels like some closure on my past year of hunting the story of the Aardvark, both personally and professionally. I've asked for and received from Aardvark advice on cooking, home repair, what color shirt to wear on TV, whether I can easily catch a cab at a particular BART stop and how to make balloon animals. Today Google officially announced the acquisition of Aardvark and its availability in Google Labs. I thought I'd take this opportunity to share a few stories about my year following this company and using its service. There's no knowing how much attention the project will get inside Google, so this may be a case of "it was fun while it lasted." But it sure was fun. And perhaps this acquisition won't be the last we hear of Aardvark, after all. Founded by ex-Google employees, here's how Aardvark describes its team that built the system: "Over 2009, the company built an amazing technical team of over twenty people, including engineers from each of Silicon Valley's major technology companies, four AI Ph.D.s, and founders from a dozen different successful startups." Those people are all Google employees now and have a tidy pile of money.