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Wal-Mart to buy social-media firm Kosmix to beef up mobile, Web retail

April 18, 2011 |  1:23 pm

TweetBeat

Wal-Mart Stores has agreed to buy social-media company Kosmix for an undisclosed sum of money 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."

Buying Kosmix should speed up Wal-Mart's development in both social and mobile retail plans, Castro-Wright said.

Kosmix, based in Mountain View, Calif., builds Web-based applications that filter social media content in real time by interest, using three different websites: Kosmix.com, Tweetbeat and RightHealth. The company was founded by Venky Harinarayan and Anand Rajaraman, who sold their first start-up, Junglee, to Amazon in 1998.

Once the Wal-Mart purchase is complete, Kosmix won't be leaving Silicon Valley. Instead, Wal-Mart said it plans to integrate the company and its employees into its new tech offshoot called @WalmartLabs to focus on building out its platform technologies for social and mobile commerce.

Wal-Mart is the world's largest retailer, with brick-and-mortar stores in 15 countries and e-commerce websites operating in nine countries. But Amazon.com is currently the leading retail website online -- something Wal-Mart would like to change.

Rajaraman, in the statement, said he thinks Kosmix will fit well into Wal-Mart 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. "We are thrilled to join one of the world's largest companies and combine our work with Wal-Mart's vast online and offline retail businesses."

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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Twitter.com/nateog

Image: A screen shot of TweetBeat.com, one of Kosmix's social-media-sorting websites. Credit: Kosmix

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