Time Warner Pumps $20m into Start-Up Rival to Google

10 December 2008

NEW YORK: A recurring variation on a media theme is the advent of a new Google-slayer – heralded every second month, or so it seems. The latest contender, Kosmix, however, might, just might prove to be the new champion. For two rather good reasons.

The first: the seed cash, a cool $20 million (€15.45m; £13.49m) has been put up by media titan Time Warner. And the second good reason: Kosmix's founding duo, Anand Rajarman and Venky Harinarayan, hung out with Google's Sergey Brin and Larry Page whilst the quartet were students at Stanford University. 

Their relationship was as much commercial as collegiate. So much so that in 1998 Brin offered Rajarman and Harinarayan a chance to buy Google for $1m – a sum that today seems ludicrously modest but in 1998 was beyond most students' wildest dreams of avarice.

What a difference a decade makes. 

It was announced yesterday that Rajarman and Harinarayan, both Indian nationals, had not only attracted TW's backing but also the support of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Ed Zander, chairman/ceo of Motorola.

With investors of that calibre (and cash to match), it would appear that the Indian duo are onto something big. So what has Kosmix got that Google hasn't?

Explains Rajarman: "Google works if you know exactly what you're looking. But if you've only got a vague idea, it can be quite hard to find the answer. Kosmix allows you to browse a whole topic and suggests areas it thinks you might be interested in." 

Adds Rachel Lam, svp/ group managing director of Time Warner Investments: "Kosmix's technology and the company's innovations around the traditional online publishing model could represent a paradigm shift in how targeted content is delivered to consumers.

"Kosmix's management team is at the forefront of a new online business model, one that goes beyond banner ads to reach consumers at the moments when they are most receptive and engaged, and importantly, one that should continue to generate strong revenue growth, even in today's challenging economic environment."

Give or take a year or several, could it be that Sergey and Larry will be receiving their pink slips? 

Data sourced from Telegraph.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff