Ness Computing Announces $5M Series A Financing to Develop Personal Search Engine

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Company Leverages Social Graph Data Mining and Machine Learning to Make Search Personal

Ness is making search personal. Ness helps people make decisions by providing results that are uniquely tailored to their tastes and personality.

Ness Computing is announcing that it raised a $5M Series A round of financing in November 2010. The round was led by Vinod Khosla and Ramy Adeeb of Khosla Ventures, with participation from Alsop Louie Partners, TomorrowVentures, Bullpen Capital, a co-founder of Palantir Technologies and several angel investors. This financing is enabling the company’s team of engineers and scientists, with expertise in information retrieval and machine learning, to pursue their vision to change the nature of search by building technology that delivers results and recommendations that are unique to each person using it.

The technology, which the company calls a Likeness Engine, represents a new approach to this complex engineering challenge by fusing a search engine and a recommendation engine, and will power the company’s first product, a mobile service called Ness. The Likeness Engine is different from traditional search engines that are useful for finding fact-based objective information that is the same for everyone, such as weather reports, dictionary terms, and stock prices. Ness Computing’s vision is to answer questions of a more subjective nature by understanding each person’s likes and dislikes, to deliver results that match his or her personal tastes. This can be seen in the difference between a person asking, “Which concerts are playing in New York City?” and “Which concerts would I most enjoy in New York City?” Ultimately, Ness aims to help people make decisions about dining, nightlife, entertainment, shopping, music, travel and more, culled expressly for them from the world’s almost limitless options.

“Ness is making search personal,” said Corey Reese, CEO and Co-Founder of Ness. “Ness helps people make decisions by providing results that are uniquely tailored to their tastes and personality. It learns what people like, and listens to the content their friends share on social networks to allow them to instantly find experiences they will love.”

Palantir Technologies co-founder Joe Lonsdale explained why he invested in the company: “I'm inspired by Ness because their engineering culture reminds me of Palantir.” He continued, “They've attracted many of the best computer scientists in Silicon Valley to enable powerful data-driven insights, focused on consumers instead of government and enterprise customers.”

Reese was formerly in venture capital at Alsop Louie Partners, where he initiated the firm’s investments in Justin.tv and Gowalla, and ran the firm’s program to identify up and coming technical talent at top universities. Reese founded the company with Nikhil Raghavan, a founding member of Yahoo’s Structured Web Search team, Paul Twohey, a software engineer who worked on geospatial search at Palantir, and Steven Schlansker, a many time hackathon winner and top programmer out of UC Berkeley. The company’s team of three machine learning PhDs is lead by Dr. Jeremy Schiff, who was previously President and Co-Founder of Fotoflexer. Scott Goodson, an original member of and senior engineer on Apple’s iOS team, is the company’s Director of Mobile Engineering. The company has been operating in stealth mode since its founding in October of 2009, when it was seed funded and incubated by Alsop Louie Partners.

About Ness Computing

Ness Computing’s mission is to make search personal. By combining its understanding of human nature with its expertise in search, recommendations and social networking, the company can deliver experiences that are more deeply personal than ever before.

The company’s first offering is Ness, a personal search engine that learns the likes and dislikes of the person using it. Over time, Ness builds a digital likeness that reflects each person’s unique tastes, preferences and personality. Ness is powered by the company’s Likeness Engine, which combines social graph data mining and machine learning to bring personal relevance to the field of search.

Ness Computing’s team has expertise in information retrieval, applied machine learning, natural language processing, collaborative filtering, and user interface engineering, and have built successful products and technologies at Apple, Google, Ning, Oracle, Palantir, and Yahoo. The company is venture-backed by Khosla Ventures, Alsop Louie Partners, TomorrowVentures, Bullpen Capital, and a Palantir co-founder. Advisors include Dr. Sam Gosling, author of Snoop and Professor of Personality and Social Psychology at UT Austin, and the creators of Farmville and Mint. The company is based in Silicon Valley. For more information, and careers at Ness Computing, please visit http://www.likeness.com.

External Press Contact    
Name: Marcy Simon
Phone: 917-399-8031
Email: press(at)likeness(dot)com

Ness Computing Contact
Name: Marissa Louie
Phone: (408) 718-1396
Email: press(at)likeness(dot)com

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