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FatLens Focus Draws Funding

Search and development startup IM2 received $8 million in first round funding this week after a January preview of FatLens, an e-commerce search engine aimed at online ticket buyers; the online event tickets category is a $2.5 billion a year industry.

The IM2 technology uses a search engine to scan ticket-selling sites, as well as individual sellers, to locate items that match established criteria. Peer-to-peer and other collaborative tools are built into the platform to coordinate purchases with others.

Buying in were Redpoint Ventures and Lightspeed Venture Partners with additional participation from Cambrian Ventures. Redpoint and Lightspeed assumed seats on the board of the Palo Alto-based IM2. Redpoint has previously backed Ask Jeeves, Netflix and Excite, while Lightspeed counts DoubleClick and BlueNile among its winners.

"We chose the ticket market because of all the variables it presents," said Nanda Kishore, chief executive of IM2.

Kishore said that between choosing a venue, seating, pricing and view, the ticket industry provided a unique market to show what the FatLens technology could handle.

"Online shoppers are currently underserved by search engines and event ticket outlets that cannot deliver the full range of choice to consumers," Kishore said.

As of now the beta version of the engine is limited to finding tickets, but Kishore said IM2 would continue to move to tap markets that he believes are underserved by comparison-shopping sites.

"We've set out to greatly enhance the online shopping experience with the added ability to not only get superior product search results, but to share and coordinate purchases with an IM/collaboration feature -- all from a single location on the Web," Kishore said.

Kishore and Siva Kumar are co-founders of IM2. Technical advisors to the company include Prabhakar Raghavan, a senior vice president and CTO of Verity Corp. and Anand Rajaraman, founder of Junglee, which was acquired by Amazon for $250 million.