Naveen Jain

Naveen Jain has spent the bulk of his entrepreneurial career developing Internet search technologies, from the early days at InfoSpace to the founding of online background check service Intelius.

But Jain is now putting his time (and money) into very different pursuits, including space travel and digital health. In fact, Jain is now promoting the “Digital Doctor X-Prize Challenge” — a $1 million competition in which technologists are encouraged to develop a system in which a “minimally trained person” can accurately diagnose respiratory problems, water-borne illnesses and other diseases.

But it doesn’t stop there. The Internet entrepreneur — whose career has been marked with controversy — also writes on his Web site that he’s trying to develop “Neuroscience based multi-sensory video games” that will be used to teach kids math, science and history. (Reading, he says, is not a natural way for humans to learn). And then there’s Jain’s new role as co-founder of space exploration company Moon Express, which is attempting to mine the moon for precious metals. (We previously wrote about that effort in April).

Jain — who founded InfoSpace in 1996 after a 7-year stint at Microsoft — has always been a passionate and driven entrepreneur (some may say too much so). But what’s sparking all of the new ideas?

The 51-year-old tells VentureBeat’s Dean Takahashi that he grew up very poor in India and that the U.S. has given him an opportunity to impact billions of people through innovation.

“I find that if I can use the innovation and entrepreneurship to make an impact on billion people’s life I will have done the best I could do in terms of giving back and pay my debts,” Jain tells VentureBeat, adding that “there’s no problem that’s large enough that could not be solved through innovation and entrepreneurship.”

Here’s Takahashi’s interview with Jain:

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  • Brad

    I thought I recognized the name. If the link below about Intelius is true, this guy should not be a part of our tech community discussions…unless is’t a diuscussion about our responsiblity to not scam our customers.  Just ignore anything he does/says.

    • Guest

      Oh, Brad. What have I told you about reading TechCrunch, the People Magazine of tech?

  • guest

    “I will have done the best I could do in terms of giving back and pay my debts,” Jain tells VentureBeat”

    This may have to wait until the afterworld.

  • Guest

    Thank you to Naveen for helping to solve the world’s problems! I hope that Dr. Jain will do for world health what the Lunar X-Prize is doing for space exploration. Private money finds the way to a cure.

  • Anonymous

    Wow.  Speechless.  Unbelievable.  John, I truly respect what you do but this makes me seriously doubt your judgement.  Naveen has left a trail of wreckage in his wake over the years.  This is the guy that proudly and loudly proclaimed that he was smarter than Bill Gates.  Regardless of the truth, it’s seems to me that it’s a self-nullifying statement.

    • johnhcook

      I’ve covered Naveen Jain for more than a decade, so I am well aware of his past activities. That’s part of why I linked to some of my previous coverage about him, and pointed out that his career has been marked with controversy.

      I remain interested in what Jain is doing, especially as he diversifies his interests to space travel, biology, education, etc. I don’t think the best path is to ignore what he’s doing. In fact, I think his current pursuits require even more scrutiny/coverage in my opinion.

      Love him or hate him, Jain is a member of the Seattle tech community. And, I think, it is worthwhile to share what he’s up to with readers. Anyway, thanks again for the comment and hope that helps explain why I thought it was worthwhile to include here.


      • Anonymous

        I do appreciate your desire to provide evenhanded coverage.  And I think you get it right more than the vast majority out there.  Still, I find him to be emblematic of what is rotten in the tech community.

      • guest

        He is a crook. Plain and simple. To propigate his name is a sham.

        I do not think the Seattle Tech community wants to claim him as his own.

        Kind of like the UW using Ted Bundy on their promotional literature.

        • Guest

          Theodore Robert “Ted” Bundy was an American serial killer, rapist, kidnapper, and necrophile who assaulted and murdered many young women between 1974 and 1978.

          Naveen Jain is a man who is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

          Do yourself a favour and leave the computer for a while. You need some exposure to the real world, not the make-believe hyperbole factory of tech journalism and comments sections.

  • Amused

    This is one of the most bizare story I have seen.  According to all accounts, his buisness is a scam.  Lawsuites, exposes (see Tech Crunch at ), bitter consumer complaints, intervention by the Washington State Attoney General, class action lawsuits, payment of large fines, and a strange past with InfoSpace.  One of is co-founders arrested.  Purely an attempt to buy some postive publicity.  Don’t fall for it.

  • RJ Singh

    John –

    I will tell you for a fact Naveen did not grow up poor in India.  The Jains are a wealthy community and he went to IIT.  You guys were simply quite taken by this guy.  Ask him about his community and the wealth they have in India. 

    He is a businessman and is all about promoting himself.  Nice Job Naveen for posing as a poor Indian.

  • Jil

    Well, I would not say that his business is a scam. That just cannot be. The company he runs is huge, Intelius. Yes, Naveen Jain has a bad reputation ( ) but that does not mean that whatever he does is bad!

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