Google buying online photo company Riya?

The latest Google buzz is that the search giant is buying or talking about acquiring Riya, a Redwood City, Calif.-based company that uses facial-recognition technology to enable users to search for people in photos. Pretty nifty idea if it works.

Niall Kennedy's Weblog writes: "Photo service Riya has been acquired by Google for close to $40 million according to sources involved with the company." Riya is set to launch at a party in Atherton on Friday, Kennedy adds.

On his Gigaom blog, Om Malik is more tentative with the purported news: "Since this past Thursday, I have heard whispers that Riya, a Redwood City, California-based photo service is being courted by Google. Now this rumor has been repeated by multiple sources, though not one of them is directly involved with the two companies. One of them indicated that this is still at due diligence stage. I am putting this in the highly rumored and unconfirmed category."

Google's official response: "Your inquiry is about rumor and speculation and we're not able to respond to questions of this type."

If the Riya purchase is true, that is only a dent in the estimated $7 billion in cash the company has in the bank. And with a and share prices exceeding $400, the company could go on a real buying spree.

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