Alibaba invests in ecommerce search game

Alibaba, the Chinese (and global) powerhouse, is investing in Twiggle, a stealthy Israeli ecommerce search startup

Alibaba invests into the e-commerce search game
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Ecommerce vendors are increasingly under pressure to deliver the most relevant products to site visitors. As choices available to consumers increase, so too does the requirement to filter the myriad of options and offer the most relevant products in response to a consumer's search. It is for this reason that ecommerce search tools from companies such as SLI Systems are increasingly important.

Another player in the space is stealth Israeli company Twiggle. Twiggle combines the buzzwords du jour—machine learning, artificial intelligence and natural language processing—and delivers them within the context of ecommerce search.

Twiggle was funded back in 2013, and its founders were formerly leaders at Google, namely Dr. Amir Konigsberg, previously one of the members of Google’s operations in the emerging markets and former managing director of MySupermarket.com, and Dr. Adi Avidor, a former engineering tech lead at Google. Combined, the two have authored more than 35 U.S. patents and bring a wealth of experience in digital innovation in the fields of search, artificial intelligence and ecommerce. 

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The interesting thing here is that retail giant Alibaba has announced an investment in Twiggle. The company joined in the second tranche of Twiggle's A Round, which was originally led by Naspers with participation from YJ Capital, State of Mind Ventures and Sir Ronald Cohen.

The timing is good for a new entrant in the ecommerce search space. Buzzwords aside, the rise of machine learning and the proliferation of things such as bots make the search context very different from only a few short years ago. We're seeing a change in the way ecommerce works, and a commensurate change in ecommerce search is following from that.

“We’re redefining the way users engage with ecommerce, and we take it as the utmost validation of Twiggle’s vision and potential that a global company like Alibaba would join us on this journey,” said Amir Konigsberg, CEO and co-founder of Twiggle. “We are wholly focused on bringing the most advanced search experience and technologies to digital commerce to help this industry take a massive leap forward. Alibaba is an incredible company, and we’re delighted to partner with them.”

My POV

It's a busy space, and I'm still a little unsure as to the long-term opportunity for third-party ecommerce search providers. It seems to me that in the fullness of time, ecommerce search will be offered directly from the various ecommerce platforms: MagentoShopify, etc. That said, there will no doubt be extensive M&A activity as the various players consolidate, hence the opportunity or Twiggle is very real.

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