Rakesh Mathur is someone I have known from a bubble ago. He dropped me a note today saying that he has moved back to Silicon Valley from Seattle. (That perhaps explains the torrential rains, which have followed Rakesh to the Bay Area.) He is one of the founders of Junglee, a recommendation-engine company that was snapped up Amazon.com in days when Broadbandits were still the broadband badshahs.
Rakesh, if you are too old to remember he helped make Junglee famous by appearing on the cover of Upside magazine, in a little black dress. What a buzz that photo created! It was a pun on the multi-million branding effort by CEO of a company called Crossroads Systems. Rakesh says he spent a total of $180 on his outfit and accessories. Oh those were the good old times… Oh wait these are the new new good times. (Pun intended!) Apparently, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos told Rakesh that any CEO who could wear a dress like that, well Amazon had to get in bed with that company.
Mathur is moving back to the Valley just in time to take the covers off his new start-up, Webaroo, which is in the mobile space. The company has not revealed its plans, or its investors, but my sources say, that one of the backers is none other that Roger McNamee. (He declined to comment, when I asked him a few months ago.) Venky Harinarayan is another investor in the company. (Venky is running Kosmix by the way.) I met with Rakesh yesterday in the Business 2.0 offices, and well he looks exactly the same. We reminisced about the old days, and then he gave me the low down on his company, the plan and the investors, though I cannot write about it because of an embargo. Lets just say it is an interesting idea.
Mathur’s co-founder in this business is Brad Husick who worked at Vignette and had co-founded NetGravity, an online advertising company that merged with Double Click. The third co-founder in the company is Beerud Sheth, who had co-founded Elance in 1998. Elance, as you might remember had raised some serious cash from Kleiner Perkins. Its still around, somewhere on the web. Rakesh’s last start-up, Purple Yogi didn’t do too well with its audacious plans, but still has managed to reinvent itself as a legal discovery service. What Webaroo is up to – details in two weeks!