Etsy acquires Blackbird Technologies to dip its toes into artificial intelligence

by Taylor Majewski
September 20, 2016

Etsy, the online marketplace for handmade goods, is making a bet on artificial intelligence.

This week, the company announced it acquired Blackbird Technologies, a machine learning startup whose proprietary technology provides search and recommendations functionalities.

Blackbird’s technology analyzes user behavior and unstructured data to provide relevant and personalized search recommendations, using natural language processing to understand complex search inquiries.

The acquisition comes as part of Etsy’s current push to further optimize its search experience, as well as its long-term vision to deploy A.I. technology in areas beyond search.

"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 Etsy's CEO Chad Dickerson in a statement. "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."

All of Blackbird’s employees, including the company’s co-founders, who serve as CEO and CTO, respectively, will join Etsy’s team.

This marks the sixth acquisition for Etsy, and its first since going public in 2015. Financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

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