Wal-Mart Purchases Social Media Company Kosmix

By Tracey E. Schelmetic April 19, 2011

Everyone's getting into the social networking scene, it would appear. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said today that it has agreed to buy social media company Kosmix for an undisclosed sum, as the world's largest retailer aims to win over more tech-savvy shoppers, reported Reuters.

Kosmix was founded in 2005 by Venky Harinarayan and Anand Rajaraman. Wal-Mart said Harinarayan and Anand Rajaraman and the rest of the Kosmix team will operate as part of a newly formed group called @WalmartLabs that will create technologies and businesses around shopping online or with smart phones.

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

Earlier on Monday, Mike Duke, Wal-Mart's chief executive officer, said in a statement that his top priority for this year was to turn around same-store sales at its U.S. discount chain. Wal-Mart reported lukewarm profits in 2010, but those profits were largely attributed to sales in new, international stores. Domestic stores that had been open for at least a year consistently lost money.

Kosmix's founders, Harinarayan and Rajaraman, were also co-founders of Junglee, the first shopping search engine which was acquired by Amazon.com in 1998. They later created Amazon.com’s Mechanical Turk and started an early-stage VC fund, Cambrian Ventures, which backed several companies later acquired by Google. Harinarayan and Rajaraman will continue to be based in California's Silicon Valley.

Tracey Schelmetic is a contributing editor for TechZone360. To read more of Tracey's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

TechZone360 Contributor

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