eBay will acquire a Swedish company called Expertmaker, which, according to eBay's announcement, "specializes in providing intelligent solutions powered by artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and big data analytics."
eBay said Expertmaker has already been helping it bring structure to its listings. The "structured data" initiative is being touted as a way to help eBay regain some of its lost search engine mojo, improve "discoverability," and help bring better shopping experiences to the marketplace. Think of it as helping eBay create a product catalog the way Amazon has built its marketplace.
In 2010, Expertmaker founder Lars Hard told the Guardian
newspaper, "There are a lot of things not searchable online today. Most of them are related to how people express themselves and the implicit knowledge we all carry. The typical example is how we give product recommendations of give advice to friends. This has not been easily searchable up to now because of the complexity of the search, involving taste, needs, constraints and obviously conflicting desires, we all want a bit more than we can get."
of the Expertmaker website describes its current retail applications:
Expertmaker offers learning retail solutions that optimize and automate business processes and customer experiences. Online and brick-and-mortar retailers use the Expertmaker platform to power omni-channel personalization, prediction and optimization of key business drivers. Examples include:
- Deep personalization (recommendations, coupons, discovery)
- Demand forecasting and predictive planning
- Pricing assortment and loyalty optimization
- Competitor tracking
eBay did not disclose the purchase price. "Upon the close of the transaction, Expertmaker's employees will join eBay's structured data product and technology team. Expertmaker's Founder and CEO, Lars Hard, will join as Director, Data Science reporting into Amit Menipaz's organization." It also said, "Hard will continue to lead his team as a part of eBay and serve as a visiting lecturer at Lund University in Sweden."
Why not continue to work with Expertmaker rather than acquire the company? eBay didn't say, but the announcement serves as a signal to Wall Street that the structured data initiative, which it calls a multi-year effort, remains a priority.