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Wal-Mart to buy social media firm Kosmix

The world's largest retailer hopes to better position itself with online and mobile consumers.

April 19, 2011|By Nathan Olivarez-Giles, Los Angeles Times

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is buying social media company Kosmix Corp. in a move to better position itself with online and mobile consumers.

"We are expanding our capabilities in today's rapidly growing social commerce environment," Eduardo Castro-Wright, Wal-Mart's vice chairman, said in a statement. "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."

The amount Wal-Mart agreed to pay for Kosmix was not disclosed.

Kosmix, based in Mountain View, Calif., builds Web-based applications that filter social media content in real time by interest, using three websites: Kosmix.com, Tweetbeat and RightHealth. Users of Kosmix.com, for example, can type in a topic at the site and get a list of recent tweets that relate to it.

The company was founded by Venky Harinarayan and Anand Rajaraman, who sold their first start-up, Junglee, to Amazon.com Inc. in 1998.

Wal-Mart said it planned to integrate Kosmix and its employees into its new tech offshoot, @WalmartLabs, to focus on building out its platform technologies for social and mobile commerce.

Wal-Mart is the world's largest retailer, with bricks-and-mortar stores in 15 countries and e-commerce websites operating in nine countries. But Amazon.com is the leading retail website online.

Rajaraman, in the statement, said he thought Kosmix would fit well into Wal-Mart's plans.

"Our work has focused on developing a social genome platform that captures the connections between people, places, topics, products and events as expressed through social media — be it a feed, a tweet or a post," he said.

nathan.olivarezgiles@latimes.com

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