Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Exclusive: Wal-Mart Paid $300 Million-Plus for Kosmix

According to sources close to the situation, Wal-Mart Stores paid just over $300 million in cash for Kosmix.

The six-year-old Mountain View, Calif.-based company–which has built a social media platform that organizes content by topic–has raised $55 million from a large group of Silicon Valley venture firms.

The acquisition by the Bentonville, Arkansas-based retail giant was announced earlier today.

Wal-Mart did not disclose terms of the deal, which is focused on building out its social and mobile e-commerce offerings.

The price for Kosmix is a pricey one to do so, but traditional retailers need to jump into the digital market now dominated by app-happy, smartphone-wielding customers.

Kosmix will join the newly formed @WalmartLabs, the company said.

Kosmix was founded by the team that sold pioneering e-commerce company Junglee to Amazon in 1998.

After that, Venky Harinarayan and Anand Rajaraman raised $55 million in funding from Time Warner Investments, Accel Partners, Lightspeed Venture Partners, DAG Ventures, Bezos Expeditions, and angel investors Jon Miller and Ed Zander.

As eMoney’s Tricia Duryee wrote earlier today:

The company may be best known for powering TweetBeat, which it defines as a real-time social media filter for live events. It also operates Kosmix.com, where people go to discover social content by topic, and it operates RightHealth, which it claims to be one of the top three health and medical information sites by reach.

One interesting aspect of the deal: Accel’s senior partner Jim Breyer–who was not the principal VC in the Kosmix investment–is on the board of Wal-Mart. Presumably, he recused himself from the decision.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work