Venky Harinarayan and Anand Rajaraman, co-founders of the social media startup Kosmix, have announced that they’re leaving WalmartLabs, where they led the San Bruno innovation and data arm of the massive public company.
As reported by Forbes, the two had been with the retail giant for about a year. They founded Kosmix in 2005, and it was acquired by Wal-Mart in 2011. The site provides a dashboard for users to aggregate social media and information about a particular topic, making it well-suited for Wal-Mart’s innovation lab focused on e-commerce. Their previous startup, Junglee, was purchased by Amazon in 1998 for $250 million.
Wal-Mart has used WalmartLabs as a way to analyze large sets of data and understand the buying habits of its customers, which Matthew Ingram wrote about for GigaOM in September.
At GigaOM’s RoadMap event in November, Harinarayan explained the goal behind WalmartLabs:
At Walmart Labs, we’re building a big and fast data group to combine store data with social media data in some meaningful way. For example, a Wal-Mart buyer in Arkansas doesn’t know the optimal time to stock football merchandise in Wisconsin. That buyer can look to the social streams to see when people in that region are tweeting about football or their favorite teams. Monitoring social media can even help Wal-Mart find breakout products.
Harinarayan and Rajaraman said in a statement that they will take time off from the industry after leaving WalmartLabs.
Disclosure: Venky Harianrayan and Anand Rajaraman are both investors in Giga Omni Media, the parent company of this blog.