Qwiki Snags $8 Million In Venture Funding - InformationWeek

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1/21/2011
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Qwiki Snags $8 Million In Venture Funding

Founders of Facebook, YouTube invest in startup that delivers search results in multimedia, rather than links.

Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin, in conjunction with YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim, Juniper Networks' CEO and CTO Pradeep Sindhu, and venture capital investors, have added $8 million to the coffers of startup Qwiki, which delivers search results in multimedia, rather than links.

The latest round of funding -- which also included input from Greylock, Lerer Ventures, Contour Ventures, and Tugboat Ventures -- means Qwiki has raised a total of $9.5 million, including its angel round. Founded in 2009 by CEO Doug Imbruce, the company's executive leadership includes CTO Louis Monier, creator of AltaVista.

Qwiki, which currently is in its invitation-only alpha phase, uses a variety of sources to respond to users' queries, pulling photos from sites such as Flickr and data from Wikipedia, for example, to generate video storyboards. Content is machine-driven, according to the developer. To date, the site incorporates more than 3 million reference terms to deliver its results in a combination of video, audio, text, and pictures.

"Our new financial partners will help provide the resources, independence, and strategic know-how to grow Qwiki to the next level and forever improve the way the world consumes information," said Imbruce, in a statement.

Saverin, who now lives in Singapore, declined to disclose the amount of his investment in Qwiki. He was Facebook's first business manager and owns 5% of the social media giant, valued at about $2.5 billion.

"Qwiki is a revolutionary new platform that will define the future of information consumption globally. I'm particularly excited to support the Qwiki team as their initial product gains momentum. It is always thrilling to be involved in the early stages of disruptive technology," Saverin said, in a release.

The company, which debuted in September 2010, plans to use the financial infusion to fund technology development and launch on multiple platforms, according to Qwiki. This year, people will be able to use and create Qwikis on almost any topic, on any device, the company said. In addition, Qwiki is looking to add more scientists and artists to its staff, it said.

"Whether you're planning a vacation on the Web, evaluating restaurants on your phone, or helping with homework in front of the family AppleTV, Qwiki is working to deliver information in a format that's quintessentially human -- via storytelling instead of search," the company's Web site said. "We believe that just because data is stored by machines doesn't mean it should be presented as a machine-readable list. Let's try harder."

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