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Summary:

Update: Tentative confirmation of the deal at $40 million. Exclusive: To paraphrase a popular Bollywood ditty, Is Google singing O Riya! O Riya! Since this past Thursday, I have heard whispers that Riya, a Redwood City, California-based photo service is being courted by Google. Now this […]

Update: Tentative confirmation of the deal at $40 million.

Exclusive: To paraphrase a popular Bollywood ditty, Is Google singing O Riya! O Riya!

Since this past Thursday, I have heard whispers that Riya, a Redwood City, California-based photo service is being courted by Google. Now this rumor has been repeated by multiple sources, though not one of them is directly involved with the two companies. One of them indicated that this is still at due diligence stage. I am putting this in highly rumored and unconfirmed category. “Your inquiry is about rumor and speculation and we’re not able to respond to questions of this type,” Google spokesperson Barry Schnitt told me. I have left message for Riya founder Munjal Shah and also emailed him, but thus far no response.

Riya, as a company hasn’t even launched, and is supposed to have a coming out event at Tech Crunch’s BBQ this friday! Riya’s technology could be used to extend Google’s reach in the picture domain, where they are completely overshadowed by Yahoo. If this company ends up in the hands of Yahoo, well as far as photos go, its end game! I wonder if Microsoft made a play for the company? Of course, Riya is just the kind of technology that could help tag the photos of the big GigaPixel project.

If and that is a massive if, the deal happens, it could be part of the continuing trend of Google acquiring innovative start-ups and talented teams, in early stages. I have a story in the next issue of Business 2.0 (same as the one which has Erick’s Flickrization of Yahoo story) that analyzes Google’s buyout strategy. This one might diverge from that strategy slightly, because (as per Silicon Beat) Riya’s backers are Leapfrog Ventures and Bluerun Ventures and have invested close to $4 million in the company.

Updated: Niall thinks the price is going to be $40 million. Paul says even he was hearing the same story in corporate boardrooms.

PS: I guess I am officially off the GYM diet.

  1. 40m for the first commercial face recognition software? unless they don’t have that much confidence in what they’re doing, or unless they see google on their tail… i think that would be selling out a bit soon

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  2. Om — I heard it so many times today in my meetings in the Valley that, as I say on my site, you could turned the news into a funky drinking game.

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  3. Personally, I think Riya is the real deal. Google would be smart to snap them up, since Yahoo beat them to the punch with Flickr.

    Does anybody remember Picasa? Umm…no. Let the bidding wars begin, and more power to Munjal Shah…

    As JB would say….web 2.0, ho!

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  4. Malik Bhai,
    This is certainly one of the best reports I have ever read. Riya is kewl. This was something I was expecting in Longhorn search as WinFS would be able to do it far more easily. Is Ghemwat spending sleepless nights in GoooglePlex for his next generation File System ? Eric Schmidt doesn’t know. LOL

    I have to agree that you have very good connections. Let me know if their are any stock options available to share. LOL

    By the way don’t expect any reply from GOOG. Their famous phrase is “I don’t know”. Report this to BillG and Baldy will fly down to negotiate tomorrow.

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  5. Startup rumored to be acquired for $60M before they even launch

    Wow, talk about a great burger!
    There’s apparently some hot and heavy rumors flying around the Valley that Riya, a cool company that can do facial recognition on your photo collection (Imagine searching for all the photos with “mom”…

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  6. Stephane Rodriguez Thursday, November 17, 2005

    Looking for really proven image recognition software? Look here : http://www.ltutech.com/en/

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  7. Sad to see the GYM regime tossed away so easily. :(

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  8. Love the scoop…

    I actually wish this would go to Yahoo though since it would greatly enhance Flickr where I and many others have already invested a great deal of time with our images.

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  9. Riya Con Dios

    Both Om Malik and Niall Kennedy have items on the aggregator about Google’s rumored purchase of Redwood City base Riya…. a company that hasn’t even launched. They’re in invite only alpha. Basically Riya uses face recognition technology to tag phot…

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