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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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  10. The Riya-Google Rumor

    Rumors are flying this morning that Riya (a killer photo facial recognition startup) has been or is being acquired by Google in the $40 million range. See Om Malik, Niall Kennedy and Paul Kedrosky.
    Even though everyone is blogging about it, this is…

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  11. Om, I guess the Bollwood song goes like “O Priya, O Priya, O Priya”! :D

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  12. [...] Well the rumors (see Om Malik, Techcrunch, Niall Kennedy, and Paul Kedrosky) are certainly flying about this happening. I have heard about this company for a while now, due to my interrests in photos and sites that host photos. Riya is one such, that has a twist. They can recognize people in your photos and tag them as such. There is a bit of a learning curve it has to go thru at first, but after that…it’s sweet baby. [...]

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  13. [...] If, instead, a blog or set of blogs is loosely joined (paging David Weinberger, you’re needed, David Weinberger) to other marketing programs, there is a huge chance for the blog to inform and shape those efforts in a more organic, powerful way.  Open sourcing the marketing.  Rather than getting corpspeak in my blog, what if we get blog dialogue into our marketing?   I don’t think you have to go whole hog (as Tara Hunt has done) and say ‘the marketing program is to blog‘.  (But if the buyout rumors are correct it seems to have worked for Riya.)    [...]

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  14. This sounds like a great new tool for searching for my favorite, ahem, stars on google image search!

    It is pretty exciting technology and I’m looking forward to playing with it.

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  15. [...] Now comes the rumour/news that Riya is being bought by Google – before it has even launched! I have to stress the news that this is still just a rumour – and the way rumours grow legs on the blogosphere (remember the Technorati buyout rumours?), it may well be completely untrue. [...]

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  16. [...] The face recognizing photo service I talked about earlier, Riya, may be bought out by Google according toNiall Kennedy and Om Malik. If true, it could mean a Google photos offering, probably integrated with their image search. [...]

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  17. [...] Niall Kennedy has more details here and of course Om Malik would have something to say here too, most of which he believes is just rumor and speculation at this point. « Riya Photo Search Uses Facial Recognition   [...]

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  18. Riya, Google, Could it be?

    From Ben Barren we learn about the latest rumor flying around the Blogosphere (and try not to get caught in the circular links here):
    Photo service Riya has been acquired by Google for close to $40 million according to sources involved with the compa…

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  19. [...] Om Malik writes: 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,â€? Google spokesperson Barry Schnitt told me. I have left message for Riya founder Munjal Shah and also emailed him, but thus far no response. [...]

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  20. [...] ThisThe Above from Niall Kennedy who’s pointing at Om: 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. [...]

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  21. Having followed Riya’s progress somehwhat, $40 million is chump change. If it’s really $40 million, Google has made a killing. Seems like the guys were keen on GYMing than on rolling in a actual service that works. Just thinking of seeing my smiling face appearing on Google Search along with a link to my personal webpage!

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  22. Riya being acquired by Google?

    As an alpha tester of the great Riya product i am happy to see the rumors about a possible acquisition by Google in the $40 million rangThe product works great and will finally bring sense to the Google Image and

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  23. Riya – Google

    This is (or should I say was) expected. Google showing its interests in Riya, for the tunes of $40-60M. There is a lot of talk on the blogosphere (Om, Niall, Paul) today about Google aquiring Riya. None has been confirmed by either of the sides to t…

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  24. For those that don’t know, Peter Rip of Leapfrog has a blog: http://earlystagevc.typepad.com/earlystagevc/ There are a couple of entries on Riya which are quite interesting.

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  25. This sounds like a veyr good idea for Google. I was dissapointed that Yahoo got Flickr, but this looks even better. I hope that IF they do acquire it they keep it in the same way that they have kept Blogger, Picasa and Dodgeball, i.e. not immediately rebranding it into “Google Photos”. The Google services that they have acquired and kept less integrated with the other Google services tend to be better in my opinion.

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  26. Peekaboom – Human-Powered Riya?

    All this talk of Riya’s possible acquisition has made me think about image search, face recognition and all the problems in that area. Getting humans to tag your photos, ala Flickr, seems to work on some levels, as does the traditional method…

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  27. [...] The rumour is that Google is laying it’s hands on a company called ‘Riya’ – and my personal guess is that the rumour is true. Why? Well, the software that Riya has developed is nothing but revolutionary. It’s a search engine for pictures – and what’s really cool about it is that it features face recognition. Just feed it with a few images of a person, and let the search engine go crazy in your photo folders. Ultra cool! If it’s true. The company is said to have a launch party this Friday. [...]

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  28. om,
    if you get a chance, check out the google service launch/stock table that i posted today. i’m going to amend it tomorrow to include acquisitions and perhaps include how much the stock jumped after each service/deal was announced. crazy times…again!

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  29. Google to take on Yahoo’s Flickr .. it really does make sense if you think about it. Would probably also include some sort of integration with Picasa. Picasa only has a basic “create HTML” publishing ability, circa 1997.

    It also seems Google is now more open to the content hosting business (i.e. Google Base) so this is not too far out.

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  30. [...] It looks very interesting as a search tool, at the moment it’s in alpha and only IE 6 users may search, they hope to support Firefox by the beta release (which if I read the articles right will be within days.)… from the online source of the rumor… 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. [...]

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  31. Wow! This is quite an awesome piece of software Google is getting!!! They will definitely get better and better if they continue this path.

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  32. The rumor is entirely unfounded. There are much much better technologies and research prototypes out there. Unless Google is misinformed or stupid, a simple site with primitive face-recognition technology can be duplicated in a couple of months.

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  33. [...] Photo service Riya has been acquired by Google for close to $40 million according to sources involved with the company. Riya uses face recognition technology to identify people in photos. The system can also recognize text such as street signs. Google likes using algorithms to solve complex problems, so the acquisition seems like a good fit. Om Malik has done some additional digging on the deal’s details. [...]

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  34. [...] How cool is it to create a product, never take it to market, and have it bought for $40 Million!! God I love technology. Rumors are flying this morning that Riya (a killer photo facial recognition startup) has been or is being acquired by Google in the $40 million range. See Om Malik, Niall Kennedy and Paul Kedrosky. [...]

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  35. Google is always rumored to be in on the big deals (Skype, AOL) but never “wins”. Isn’t it obvious that Google would never actually go through with such a deal? Google buys tiny companies in hypergrowth stage, not huge companies on the decline.

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  36. [...] On the heels of that article comes news that Riya, a photo search startup using facial recognition technology, is “being acquired by Google”:http://gigaom.com/2005/11/16/googles-riya-designs/ for $40 million — PRE-LAUNCH [...]

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  37. Shel Sez: Google has NOT bought Riya

    Conflicting reports are coming in over Google’s rumored acquisition of Riya. Now Shel Israel, a consultant to Riya is saying, Google has NOT bought Riya. Who wants to play To Tell the Truth?

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  38. [...] Die Geschichte, die in einigen Blogs schon als vollendete Tatsache gemeldet wird, ist bislang allerdings noch ein Gerücht, offiziell bestätigt wurde bislang nichts. Riya-Gründer Munjal Shah gibt sich in seinem privaten Blog auch eher amüsiert. Heute abend soll es wohl eine Art öffentliche Präsentation geben, vielleicht wird da mehr bekannt gegeben. [...]

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  39. [...] Rumors are flying to the effect that Google is looking to purchase, or may have already purchased Riya, developers of a new facial recognition technology designed to allow its users to group photographs by the names of people in their pictures, group by subject, group by date, as well as group by the text of signs in their pictures, which Riya can also detect and read. [...]

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  40. I like the cut of your jib, Jack Lu.

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  41. [...] Riya, a facial recognition photo search service, had it’s alpha launch party tonight at the Tech Crunch headquarters in Atherton. This location has been the scene of previous Tech Crunch BBQ’s, but tonight, at Tech Crunch Meetup #4 the focus was on Riya and my good friend Tara Hunt helped organize a successful launch party attended by several hundred geeks. These numbers were inflated by several rumors that Google has aquired Riya for 40 million dollars, which in turn lead to another 5000 requests for alpha accounts. For more on Riya and how it works, check out Tech Crunch’s in-depth analysis of their service. Here are my photos from the Riya Launch Party. [...]

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  42. We are looking for developers to help us kick off an open source voip project

    http://www.domeafavorbuddy.com

    and click on innovation

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  43. [...] As expected. Google can’t fail to copy Yahoo (same goes for Yahoo). Rumors are now that Google are going to buy a new project called Riya. Someone says this is highly rumored and unconfirmed news, but you can’t expect to see google running without something like Flickr which was bought earlier this year by Yahoo. BTW, Riya so far… sucks. It even works only with IE6. So, if you are a Firefox fanatic, don’t even care to try. [...]

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  44. HBS Tech Panel: Valley of Destiny or Valley of Doom ?

    I had a bit of a bard time getting out of bed this morning after last night’s TechCrunch/Riya party (where is that headache coming from ?), but I wanted to attend the end of the HBS Tech conference organized by my friend Chris Yeh. Particularly, the …

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  45. [...] Now, it appears that Google is trying to buy Riya. [...]

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  46. [...] a rumour going on in the blogosphere ignited by Om Malik about the possibility of Riya’s acquisition by Google. It’s yet another not-even-born-company acquisition by Google tothe web 2.0. Riya is pretty much likely like Flickr (only, probably, better), don’t you think? [...]

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  47. Is Web 2.0 just one big party?
    Am I the only one who feels left out of the whole buzz and hum that is Web 2.0, with its launch parties and takeover parties and Flickr galleries of same? I’m joking, more or less, but sometimes Toronto — or just about anywhere that isn&#8…

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  48. Today itself i confirmed this news that google buying the Riya, but still it is immature what future beneath. urely it will be astonishing to see when finally the beta software turns to be full fledged product though it harness very complex calculation as it can diffrentiate between twins also.

    Regards

    Aswani Chauhan
    http://www.sunholidays.co.in

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  49. [...] Link di chi ne parla: TechCrunch, Niall Kennedy, Om Malik, Paul Kedrosky [...]

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  50. [...] Om Malik broke the news on the Riya acquisition and has “tentative” confirmation on the deal, which has Google acquiring the Riya company for $40 Million; that’s a lot of Benjamin Franklin’s for Riya to recognize. [...]

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  51. It still a rumours then, let wait and see…

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  52. Google buying Face Recognition software?!

    Apparently Google are in talks to buy face recognition software company Riya. Go to riya.com. Look at what they do. Now think. Google knows I search for. They know all the email I’ve ever communicated. They have a pretty good idea where I live….

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  53. [...] Riya might be the latest one to be taken out by Mandarins of Mountain View. [...]

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  54. Google did not buy Riya, nor do they intend to.
    This is a well-planned publicity stunt by Riya folks, who “leaked” this rumor, and see how much attention this start-up already received…
    Their technology is not innovative at all: computer vision and face recognition have been around for many years.
    Google has tons of clever researchers and developers and does not need to buy technology they can easily develop themselves.

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  55. That’s a famous rumour. I do not understand why so much 40 million!

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  56. Google doesn’t need to buy Riya… there is plenty of image recognition stuff around, for cheap, works as well or better than Riya, and 5 of Googles programmers can take these engines, and slap much better tagging and annotation features around it.

    Google is not stupid… due diligence in this area will show up much better and mature technology.

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  57. What “problem” does Riya solve?

    The hype and rumors around Riya is perplexing to me. In fact, count me as skeptical. Some of the uber bloggers, Robert Scoble, Om Malik, and Michael Arrington have been praising Riya, yet saying little about what Riya actually does. These guys are very…

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  58. [...]     Flickr es el chiche de moda en el mundo blog, lo habia oido por todas partes pero me resistia a usarlo basicamente por sus limitaciones (en este sentido me hubiese gustado que fuera Google quien adquiriera flickr, pero no dudo que luego saquen algo similar), traba que supere, pues actualmente estoy en etapa de transicion (creo).  No les voy a listar aqui todas las inmensas e innumerables virtudes de flickr, para eso vean mejor este tour. [...]

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  59. [...]        Desde hace un tiempo estan flotando en el aire rum ores y desm entidos acerca de la adquisicion de riya por parte de google. Especulacion, especulacion, pero usaremos esos rumores para hablarles de riya. [...]

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  60. [...] Michael Arrington of TechCrunch.com only arrived a few months ago, and already his house is the place to be for Web 2.0 conference attendees and launch parties, like the recent one for facial-recognition software company Riya — the one that may or may not be about to become part of the Brin and Page family. Maybe it’s because of the giant yard and patio that Mike’s house has, which makes it easy to have 250 or so people over. Some think the focus on parties has gone a little too far. [...]

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  61. [...] After much talk about Riya being acquired by Google, the facial-recognition-software startup has decided to remain independent, according to co-founder Munjal Shah. Microsoft blogger Robert Scoble says that Microsoft also looked at the company but decided to pass. [...]

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  62. [...] Concise, sensible and well researched articles about possible acquisitions are no way to build a bubble. Blog posts not based on unfounded rumor and/or wild fantasy and/or wishful thinking do not contribute and, in fact, detract from the hype and buzz the rest of us on the Blogosphere are dedicated to promote. [...]

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  63. [...] Rumors are flying this morning that Riya (a killer photo facial recognition startup) has been or is being acquired by Google in the $40 million range. See Om Malik, Niall Kennedy and Paul Kedrosky. [...]

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  64. [...] Riya, the online photo search engine that Om had speculated about earlier, just got a big chunk of money. Bay Partners invested $15 Million in what looks like their first consumer deal. [...]

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  65. Check out this new site – http://www.xcavator.net – it just launched. It’s integrated with flickr and does real image search and easily finds similar photos. They’re looking for people to try it and get the word out!

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  66. [...] companies, Riya.com, has had it’s turn in the barrel of speculation. For several days multiple “authoritative” blogs repeated a rumor that Google was buying [...]

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  67. [...] Yahoo). Rumors are now that Google are going to buy a new project called Riya. Someone says this is highly rumored and unconfirmed news, but you can’t expect to see google running without something like [...]

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  68. ohhhh $40 million. very expensive

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  69. [...] annetto fa, si vociferava circa l’acquisizione di Riya (società che lavora su di una innovativa tecnologia per il [...]

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  70. [...] so you can find a shirt just like the one Britney’s wearing. There were rumors in 2005 that Google might acquire Riya. In August of 2006, Google did in fact buy an image search company, Neven [...]

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  71. This indicates that google is now developing technology that reads through image objects…. it will do wonders if they manage to get through it.

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  72. [...] for a company that debuted back in May 2006 to much fanfare and, at one point, was close to being acquired by Google. That deal fell through, however, and Google settled for Neven [...]

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  73. [...] To date, Like.com’s total funding is roughly $19.5 million, provided by Bay Partners, BlueRun Ventures and Leapfrog Ventures.  Like.com is a spin-off from Riya.com.  Riya.com was founded by Munjal Shah in 2004.  Riya was rumored to be courted for an acquisition by Google 3 years ago for roughly $40 mill [GigaOM]. [...]

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  74. [...] To date, Like.com’s total funding is roughly $19.5 million, provided by Bay Partners, BlueRun Ventures and Leapfrog Ventures.  Like.com is a spin-off from Riya.com.  Riya.com was founded by Munjal Shah in 2004.  Riya was rumored to be courted for an acquisition by Google 3 years ago for roughly $40 mill [GigaOM]. [...]

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  75. [...] To date, Like.com’s total funding is roughly $19.5 million, provided by Bay Partners, BlueRun Ventures and Leapfrog Ventures.  Like.com is a spin-off from Riya.com.  Riya.com was founded by Munjal Shah in 2004.  Riya was rumored to be courted for an acquisition by Google 3 years ago for roughly $40 mill [GigaOM]. [...]

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  76. [...] Williams dan Biz Stone. Evan adalah juga pencipta situs blogging populer Blogger.com yang kemudian dibeli Google senilai $40 juta atau Rp400 miliar pada tahun 2005. Kabarnya raksasa Internet, Google, sekarang juga sedang akan [...]

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