Intel invests in social media incubator Betaworks

Intel and other companies pour $20 million into the company to get insight into real-time user behavior

Intel invested an undisclosed amount in social media incubator Betaworks to gain insight into real-time user behavior on social networks, the chip maker said on Thursday.

The investment could help Intel develop better hardware for mobile devices or servers that either access or provide real-time social media services, said Mike Buckley, managing director of Intel Capital. Buckley declined to comment on how much Intel invested in Betaworks.

Intel joined other companies, including Aol, that invested in Betaworks on Thursday. An Aol spokeswoman confirmed the investment in Betaworks but declined to comment on the amount.

Betaworks is best known as an investor in social media companies that include Twitter, Tumblr, Bit.ly and TweetDeck.

Betaworks received a total of US$20 million in investments from companies that included The New York Times and SoftBank, said Josh Auerbach, senior vice president at Betaworks. The company will use that money to continue investing in social media networks, Auerbach said.

Intel is known primarily as a hardware company, but the investment in Betaworks isn't directly tied to its hardware operations, Buckley said. But real-time Web services where users exchange messages instantly are gaining popularity and offer the potential to create additional demand for products ranging from mobile phones to servers, Buckley said.

"Twitter is the one that jumps out, and a lot of companies Betaworks is involved with are in the Twitter ecosystem," Buckley said. "This is more of an eyes-and-ears investment to gain more and deeper insights into how this segment evolves."

Beyond understanding the sector and user behavior, the company ultimately expects to get returns through the investment.

Intel has invested in about 30 social media companies worldwide. Intel Capital also has stakes in companies like 51.com, a social network in China, and Yatra.com, an online travel company in India.

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