Etsy (ETSY) Acquires Blackbird Technologies

September 19, 2016 4:06 PM EDT

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Etsy, Inc. (Nasdaq: ETSY), which operates marketplaces where people around the world connect, both online and offline, to make, sell and buy unique goods, today announced that it has acquired Blackbird Technologies, Inc. Privately-held, Blackbird has developed proprietary machine learning technology that delivers superior search relevance and recommendations.

Blackbird's novel technology combines images and text using advanced Deep Learning Artificial Intelligence techniques to power a range of search capabilities, including personalized search, ranking, spelling correction and predictive typeahead, to deliver a personalized shopping experience.

"Buyers come to Etsy.com for items they can't find anywhere else and our goal is to help them discover exactly what they want among our 40 million unique listings. Leveraging Blackbird's technology, we believe we can enhance the buyer experience by making search quicker and easier and by surfacing even more relevant, tailored product recommendations," said Chad Dickerson, Etsy, Inc. CEO and Chair. "Our team has already made substantial enhancements to the search & discovery process on Etsy, especially through features like Exploratory Search, and we are excited for Blackbird's world-class team and technology to accelerate our progress in this key area."

Transaction Rationale and Benefits:

  • Blackbird has advanced technology with a proven track record of delivering high-quality search, including:
    • Machine learning that analyzes user behavior, unstructured data, and other variables to suggest relevant and personalized search recommendations;
    • Natural language processing to understand complex search queries;
    • Deep Learning-based image recognition techniques to index and catalogue photos, which help provide more relevant search results; and
    • Spelling correction and predictive typeahead to make searching faster and more intuitive.
  • Blackbird's talented employees, including its co-founders, who serve as the company's CEO and CTO, will join Etsy. The team possesses a deep expertise in Artificial Intelligence, search, and distributed systems and has direct experience working in these areas for some of the largest technology companies in the world.
  • This expansion of Etsy's technical capabilities and search sciences team is expected to accelerate our efforts to further optimize the search experience.
  • In addition, longer-term, we believe there may be opportunities to deploy Blackbird's Artificial Intelligence technology in areas beyond search that will help strengthen our markets and seller services platform.


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