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Junglee founder departing Amazon

Rakesh Mathur is leaving outright and colleague Ram Shriram is moving out of Seattle, less than a year after Amazon bought their start-up to establish its comparison shopping service.

One of Junglee's founders is leaving and the other is moving out of Seattle, less than a year after the e-commerce giant bought their software start-up to establish its comparison shopping service.

Rakesh Mathur, Junglee's former chief executive, is leaving Amazon entirely to "pursue other interests," according to an Amazon spokesman. Meanwhile, Junglee's former chief operating officer, Ram Shriram, will return to the San Francisco Bay Area to be near his family.

Mathur works in Amazon's information technology department, while Shriram is Amazon's vice president for business development. Although Shriram plans to stay with Amazon, he will work in a new, undetermined capacity.

"There's a mutual desire that we maintain a relationship," said Amazon spokesman Paul Capelli. "We just have to figure out what that relationship will be."

Neither Mathur nor Shriram worked directly with Amazon's Shop the Web service, but the moves leave the future of the service in doubt. Based on Junglee's "shopping bot" technology, Amazon's Shop the Web debuted last December to great fanfare, but has become little more than a sidelight on the e-commerce giant's site. The company currently buries the link near the bottom of its side menu bar under "More to Explore," and offers comparison shopping on just five main categories.

Financial analyst Christopher Vroom of Thomas Weisel Partners said killing the Shop the Web feature might make sense for Amazon. Many of the site's participating merchants have dropped out of it and it no longer seems to have much value for customers, he said.

"Shop the Web's usefulness may have outlived itself," Vroom said.

But Capelli said Shop the Web won't be going away any time soon, although he did hint that Amazon might use the technology in different ways in the near future. "It's great technology," he said. "It's something to learn about and build on."

Mathur will leave the company within the next several weeks, according to the spokesman, who declined to say what Mathur would be doing next. Shriram will remain in his current position until the company replaces him.