Wal-Mart Buys Kosmix, Looks to Social Commerce Future

Wal-Mart has agreed to buy the social media and search platform Kosmix in a move the retailer says shows its dedication to new media. Kosmix founders Venky Harinarayan and Anand Rajaraman are joining the big box merchant’s e-commerce operations in Brisbane, CA, where they are launching an “@WalmartLabs” team.

kosmixHarinarayan and Rajaraman were co-founders of Junglee, a shopping engine that was acquired by Amazon.com in 1998. Their @WalmartLabs effort is being designed to create technologies that propel the multi-channel brand as a social-mobile commerce player in the years to come.

“We are expanding our capabilities in today’s rapidly growing social commerce environment,” Eduardo Castro-Wright, Wal-Mart’s vice chairman, said in a prepared release. “Social networking and mobile applications are increasingly becoming a part of our customers’ day-to-day lives globally, influencing how they think about shopping, both online and in retail stores.”

In addition to Harinarayan and Rajaraman’s seasoned online marketing perspectives, there appear to be three other key pieces in the acquisition.

First, Kosmix’s technology gathers and analyzes social connections in real-time data streams. The platform offers TweetBeat.com, a social media filtering site for consumers who are interested in live events. The Mountain View, CA-based firm’s website describes how it processes social media data: “On any given day, people share 830 million items on Facebook, upload 6.1 million photos to Flickr, add 2.1 million minutes of video to YouTube and send 65 million tweets. Kosmix cuts through this noise to find content that matters to you.”

Secondly, Kosmix.com allows viewers to search social content by topic. And lastly, RightHealth.com is a vertical search engine focusing on health and medical information.

According to an eMoney report, Kosmix has raised $55 million during recent years from Time Warner Investments, Accel Partners, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Dag Ventures, Bezos Expeditions, Jon Miller, and Ed Zander.

Wal-Mart and the six-year-old Kosmix didn’t reveal financial details of the acquisition.

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