Had it not been for shortage of funds, Google could have been an Indian-owned company today. Yes, you read it right. The story dates back to 1996. According to reports, Meet Venky Harinarayan and Anand Rajaraman were pursuing their PhDs in Computer Science at Stanford University in 1996. While studying, they launched their first company called JUNGLEE. JUNGLEE was a website that enabled users to search for products and compare their prices. During the same period, Sergey Brin and Larry Page were working on BackRub, the precursor to Google.
Sergey and Anand were friends and had the same PhD advisor. In 1998, Sergey and Larry made an offer to sell Google for only $1 million to Venky and Anand. Unfortunately, the Indian duo did not have the financial means to buy Google at that time. Later, Junglee was acquired by Amazon for $250 million in 1998. Their incredible story was first shared on LinkedIn by Shyam Siddarth and then went viral on Twitter.
The following year, Google gained significant popularity. Venky and Anand approached Jeff Bezos and convinced him to acquire Google for $300 million. They travelled to Silicon Valley to meet with Larry and Sergey but the Google founders disagreed. Larry and Sergey insisted on a billion-dollar price tag ($1 billion) for Google and the deal failed to take off. Today, after 25 years, Google’s worth has surpassed $1.5 trillion.
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Despite the Junglee acquisition, Venky and Anand didn’t stop there. In 2002, they established a venture fund and successfully facilitated the acquisition of several portfolio companies. They also created and sold Kosmix for $300 million to Walmart. In 2015, they launched another fund and have since provided funding for several Indian startups.
Meet these two folks from Chennai who almost acquired Google, not once but twice.
Venky Harinarayan and Anand Rajaraman graduated from IIT-M and went to Stanford University 30 years ago. Their friendship began when Venky drove Anand to buy groceries in his car. They co-founded… pic.twitter.com/DrslOolTTO
— Amit Jaiswal (@TheAmitJaiswal) July 15, 2023
Who Is Venky Harinarayan?
Dr. Venky Harinarayan obtained his B.Tech in Computer Science from IIT Madras in 1988 and went on to do his Ph.D. in Computer Science at Stanford, USA. Venky is an investor, entrepreneur and leader in search and e-commerce. He is the co-founder of Cambrian Ventures and Kosmix. He also co-founded Junglee Corp., which pioneered Internet comparison shopping. Junglee was acquired by Amazon.com Inc. in 1998. Venky is an active angel investor in India and Silicon Valley. He is one of less than 5 angel investors in Facebook. He is also a Board member of TutorVista, based out of Bangalore, which has been acquired by Person LLC in 2001.
Who Is Anand Rajaraman?
Dr. Anand Rajaraman obtained his B.Tech. in Computer Science from IIT Madras in 1993 and went on to do his M.S and Ph.D. in Computer Science at Stanford University, Palo Alto, USA. Anand is a serial entrepreneur, venture capitalist and academic. He is the co-founder of Cambrian Ventures, a venture capital firm. His investments include Facebook, Aster Data Systems, Neoteris, India Infoline, YouSendIT, and several others. Anand was the co-founder and CTO of Junglee Corp., and played a key role in developing Junglee’s award-winning Virtual Database technology. Later, when Junglee was acquired by Amazon.com, Anand helped in the transformation of Amazon.com from a retailer into a retail platform.