I’ve heard many rumors about Riya over the past few weeks. One strong rumor, reported by Om Malik, among others, was that Riya was getting purchased by Google.
I know our M&A guys had met with Riya too and had passed on the deal after negotiations got too expensive (translation someone else had bid more than we were willing to pay). So, I was suprised that during the past few days I had heard that Riya’s deal with Google wasn’t going to happen.
Today Munjal, Riya’s CEO, said on his blog that they were going to continue on as an independent firm and that the rumors are incorrect.
This is actually very good for Microsoft and Yahoo. Why? Cause this team is high quality and the technology is great (I’ve been using the alpha recently and like it a lot).
Now, why doesn’t Microsoft purchase them? Well, I’ve been in contact with our M&A folks. We have a lot of NIH syndrome here cause we have similar technology that our research teams have developed. I’ve seen our photo/face recognition capabilities and they are pretty cool too and, indeed, are better in some areas and not as good in others.
But, digitial photography is too big a deal to ignore Riya even if you think you’ve got their technology covered. Imagine Yahoo buys this company and matches them up with the Flickr team. Oh, boy, would that make Yahoo a photo powerhouse. When I was in Paris at various tourist destinations I talked with lots of people using digital cameras. They are looking for better ways to manage their digital photos. Riya’s approach will gain high usage quickly. I think even quicker than Flickr got picked up.
Anyway, Munjal is definitely a guy to watch and Riya is definitely a company to watch.
I think ultimately this will prove to be a bigger deal longterm than AOL’s deal with Google.
Oh, and Om Malik’s reporting was on base. I had heard the same rumors too but knew that the deal could blow up, which is why I didn’t report it. That’s a cautionary tale for folks who work for, manage, or invest in startups. Don’t get excited until the deal is inked. They might tell you the deal is done, but it can always blow up. Oh, I wish I could have been inside the meetings where this stuff went on.
Anyway, hey, Bill and Steve, let’s take another look at Riya! Either way, I’m a gonna be a happy customer of Riya as soon as they ship. Right now the recognition engine and UI need some work, but it’s improving quite rapidly.
Here’s the investor’s view from Peter Rip and an answer to Peter from Tech Crunch’s Michael Arrington.