Mike Arrington broke the news today the Google will be acquiring Like.com, a company they "left at the alter" in 2005. At that time my sources at Google told me that they elected not to move forward with Like.com, then called Riya and a face rec company, because in diligence they discovered "there wasn't much real IP there." Instead, they acquired the well thought of face recognition company, Neven Vision.
Riya went on to retool itself as an image comparison engine capable of finding eCommerce consumers similar 'looking' products on the fly using image attributes like color, shape, etc. Well there must be some real IP there now if Google is willing to spend a rumored $100M+ for the company. Still, Neven was working on his own image comparison technology in 2005, that I would view as highly similar/competitive to Like.com. And Hartmutt Neven went on to do other projects in this area while at Google like Google Goggles, where he is Engineering Manager.
This acquisition could be an indication of issues with Neven's technology, or it might simply be mechanism to for Google to augment Neven's existing tech and rapidly expand their team in this very interesting space.