Photo: Esther Dyson via flickr
In April, Walmart dropped $300 million on social media startup Kosmix to compete against Amazon with @WalmartLabs.Specifically, the retailer was targeting Anand Rajaraman, 38, and Venky Harinarayan, 44, who founded Kosmix, the creator of TweetBeat. The Stanford grads also founded Junglee, an e-commerce company that Amazon bought back in 1998 for more than $250 million (where they then worked for two years, building its marketplace division).
The world’s biggest retailer, which lags well behind Amazon with online sales, according to Businessweek, chose Kosmix for its “social genome” technology, which does semantic analysis of social data.
“One of the things we can do is use semantic analysis to analyse the area around the store and find out what people’s interests are, and use that to influence the store,” Rajaraman told Xconomy. “Imagine the impact of that across 9,000 stores with a billion visitors every month.”
There needs to be impact. Consider this view on Walmart’s culture, via Businessweek:
The organisation has long been dominated by store managers who feared e-commerce could cannibalise in-store sales, and thus their bonuses, according to a former Walmart.com senior executive. In Walmart.com’s first few years, store managers fought against putting the site’s Web address on shopping bags.
On the flip side, Rajaraman and Harinarayan are active Silicon Valley angel investors. They’re the founding partners at Cambrian Ventures, an early stage venture capital firm; and just yesterday SAI reported that the two helped fund a $7.9 million round of financing for the shopping startup Joyus, founded by ex-Google employee Sukhinder Singh Cassidy.
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