By Jack M. Germain
Jan 26, 2021 5:15 AM PT
Search-as-a-service company Algolia on Monday announced its acquisition of Google DNI-funded machine learning (ML) startup MorphL to fuel Algolia’s new artificial intelligence (AI) offering. The company hopes the new service will eliminate barriers to AI implementation and help businesses drive website conversion and personalization.
The acquisition gives Algolia access to a new suite of API-based AI and ML models that enable developers, data scientists, and marketers to predict user intent, personalize online experiences, and create highly-targeted offers. To feed the desire for users’ expectations for instant gratification, companies are depending more and more on modern technologies such as AI, according to Algolia.
However, applying AI to every point in a user’s journey can be complex. Historically, two options were available to developers, data scientists, and marketers.
These were limited to either one, a reliance on opaque proprietary or open-source offerings, or two, building their own models from scratch. That latter option could take several weeks or months, Algolia said about the benefits of the acquisition.
“I am thrilled to welcome MorphL to the Algolia family. It’s an exciting time. Brands are looking to create meaningful connections with people, and that requires understanding intent in the moment, personalized navigation, search, and recommendations or offers. Sounds easy enough, but ask most chief digital officers or heads of e-commerce. It’s not,” said Bernadette Nixon, chief executive officer of Algolia, in a written statement sent to the E-Commerce Times.
Evolving AI Action
As part of the acquisition terms, MorphL is now fully absorbed by Algolia. The acquisition is finalized. Company officials declined to divulge financial details.
The acquisition serves the interests of both organizations and their customers, noted Ciprian Borodescu, who was the cofounder and CEO of MorphL.
“Algolia customers were looking for greater personalization in their search-as-a-service without added complexity. With this acquisition, we are able to expand portfolio and evolve our AI capabilities,” he told the E-Commerce Times.
MorphL leveraged a number of open-source technologies in the platform. Algolia built many components in its platform and as such is proprietary software, Borodescu added.
“Only a limited number of AI/ML models are open source. The remainder is closed. We detail the composition (input signals), but we built a proprietary API framework around it to make it easier to use,” he explained.
Algolia’s AI offering simplifies the ability to understand users’ intent so that it is possible to personalize experiences and offers — even from a first visit and first search. This ability enables companies to move beyond content-based experiences to predictive, intent-based experiences, explained Nixon.
“Importantly, it will enable online retailers to monetize new products, new visitors, and infrequent visitors like they have never been able to do before,” she said.
This acquisition extends Algolia’s leading intelligent search APIs, with recommendations and user behavior models all along the customer journey. The insight gained allowed the company’s customers to deliver powerful, intent-based experiences and iterate quickly in response to market trends and user propensity profiles.
Improves Marketing Research
Algolia’s AI suite is highly flexible due to its API-first approach, the complete availability of its underlying data, and the ease with which developers and marketers can build upon its AI and ML models. It also allows them to leverage their market knowledge to manage and tune the entire experience.
Many companies are trying to make it easier to use AI. Few are making it as simple as MorphL, suggested Borodescu.
“Indeed, our mission has always been to democratize AI and to empower developers and marketers, who wish to enhance their digital offerings with a simple plug and play building block interface for building their intent-based, omnichannel sites and applications,” he remarked.
Algolia’s headless, API-first “building block” approach eliminates barriers to AI implementation, helping businesses drive conversion and personalization. Instead of having content coupled to a particular output, such as Web page rendering), it provides content as data over an API.
The two companies shared many similarities in their architecture and approach to solving complex problems. Both Algolia and MorphL have an API-first approach that makes it easy to insert AI-based recommendations or search into a customer experience, explained Borodescu.
The acquisition impacts marketing and other companies that use the search-as-a-service. For the first time, companies will be able to optimize the entire customer lifecycle.
“Algolia will help companies build increasingly targeted profiles to enable highly personalized experiences. We do this by enabling developers to leverage the right ML model at the right step of the customer journey,” said Borodescu.