Google Buys Like.com - InformationWeek

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8/23/2010
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Google Buys Like.com

Using Like.com's visual search technology, Google will be able to expand its non-text search capabilities.

Google has acquired visual search company Like.com in a deal that not only strengthens the company's search and e-commerce capabilities, but also expands its image recognition resources and its social networking opportunities.

Like.com CEO Munjal Shah confirmed that his company has agreed to be acquired in a post on Like.com's Web site on Friday.

"We were the first to bring visual search to shopping, the first to build an automated cross-matching system for clothing, and more," he wrote. "We didn't stop there and don't have plans to stop now. We see joining Google as a way to supersize our vision and supercharge our passion."

No price was disclosed, but TechCrunch reports that Google will pay over $100 million.

Like.com, which began life as Riya.com, a company then focused on facial recognition, leverages computer vision and machine learning technology to allow users to search for goods by visual similarity.

While Google's primary interest in the company is likely to involve using its technology to add value to its core search products, Google also stands to gain through the enhancement of related image recognition services like Google Goggles.

With Google bulking up on social networking capabilities -- it acquired social currency site Jambool and social entertainment site Slide.com earlier in August -- in preparation for a more aggressive challenge to Facebook, Like.com may also figure into the search company's efforts to make search more social and more deeply integrated with e-commerce.

Certainly visual search, which can be initiated with an image and a single click, is even simpler than entering a text-based search query. On mobile devices in particular, simplicity is critical for usability.

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