Visual search engine Like.com blasts ahead — raises double digit millions

Like.com, a search engine that analyzes images for useful shopping information, has raised double digit millions in venture capital from Silicon Valley venture firm Menlo Ventures.

It’s also on a roll, in terms of both traffic and revenue.

Like.com lets you do things like search for the color, style or texture of shoes you want to buy, and then gives you a way to buy them. If your search term is, say “red snappy shoes,” it will find you only shoes that are red and snappy (try typing that into other search engines, and it won’t work very well).

We’re hearing Menlo is set to wire the money to Like.com over the next few days and that an announcement should be made in about two weeks. We’re also hearing from a source close to the company that Like.com has exceeded its internal revenue expectations, or about doubling the $10 million it had forecast at the start of the year — and that this produced a frenzy among venture firms to score the deal. Menlo beat out other firms by offering a considerable increase in valuation for the company.

In a recruiting email sent out yesterday, the four-year-old Palo Alto, Calif. company Like.com says it has more than 5 million monthly uniques, up from 3 million in February, and a whopping 15-fold greater than its year-ago traffic.

Previously, the company has raised $19.5 million from Bay Partners, BlueRun Ventures and Leapfrog Ventures.

Back in February, I wrote a piece about how Like.com’s progress is a sign that image search can work. That piece helped spark a minor controversy when investor Fred Wilson said I’d gotten some things wrong. I argued back, however, saying Fred had missed the point. Since then, Like.com has continued to execute well.

When people click through to buy their shoes, or handbags, or whatever they’re looking for, they do so directly from the retail merchants. Like gets a cut.

This is apparently an impressive turnaround for Like, which a year ago had stagnant traffic. At first, people just weren’t interested, or hadn’t heard of the site. But the company revamped its design, refined its results and moved to add things like texture search. I say it is an apparent turnaround, because it all looks pretty good on the surface. I’ve seen companies be able to manipulate their traffic considerably by buying it with search engine advertising. However, in February, the company’s chief executive Munjal Shah argued that the recent uptick in momentum wasn’t tied solely to such strategies.

[Update: See Munjal Shah's comment below. He clarifies that his company does buy traffic, but when I talked with him on the phone just now about the extent to which the growth is tied to that, he wouldn't comment.]

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  1. [...] search and shopping engine Like.com closed a third round of funding worth $32 million, VentureBeat reports. Luckily for Palo Alto, Calif.-based Like.com, the round officially closed at the end of July, well [...]