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Ex-News Corp. entrepreneurs by the beach look to make a mint on social commerce

June 15, 2010 |  1:30 pm

Two hotshots from News Corp.'s incubator Slingshot Labs have launched a Santa Monica company with $5 million in funding.

Less than two months after leaving Slingshot, MySpace co-founder Josh Berman and Diego Berdakin raised the cash from New Enterprise Associates and Anthem Venture Partners. Their start-up, called BeachMint Inc., will attempt to make shopping a more social experience.

Basically, their idea is this: Online retail has largely been a search-driven business with consumers going to Google or Amazon to find a product or service. That has begun to change as shopping sites attempt to help people find new things or what they are looking for by tapping into their interests, friends or by cutting through the online clutter to offer a single good deal, as with Groupon, or an array of good deals, as with Gilt Groupe.

"As consumers are finding more choices online today than ever before, it has become increasingly difficult to differentiate the value in those choices. We believe a substantial part of online commerce will shift from search to experiences curated by trusted influencers," said Berman, CEO of BeachMint.

Retailers and Internet start-ups have been trying to push the social shopping concept for years to solve the perennial problem of product discovery. Two of the most popular activities online, social and shopping, should be a powerful combination. Visitors to social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter shop online more than those who don't frequent those sites, according to research firm ComScore. 

Berman and Berdakin are tight-lipped on the details of their foray into the potentially lucrative arena of online retail spending. But their site is likely to guide you to what your friends or celebrities and other influential people recommend.

The pair expects the site to go live in time for the all-important holiday season.

-- Jessica Guynn