eBay acquires recommendation service Hunch

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Auction site eBay has acquired New York-based recommendation service Hunch, in a deal believed to be worth $80 million, as recommendation websites continue to grow in popularity.

 

Hunch is a consumer web application, founded in 2009 by Chris Dixon, Caterina Fake, Tom Pinckney and Matt Gattis.

 

It is currently building a “taste graph” of the internet, mapping internet users to internet entities based on their affinity for that entity, which could be a website, a cookbook, a hotel room, etc.

 

Hunch creates a taste profile by asking them a series of questions. It then uses the answers to offer the user a suggested solution; a “hunch” of what the user will like.

 

The company has raised just under $20 million in funding from investors including General Catalyst Partners, Bessemer Venture Partners, SV Angel and Khosla Ventures.

 

Now it’s been confirmed eBay has acquired the company for an undisclosed sum, although reports suggest a price somewhere around $80 million.

 

Hunch will continue to operate as a standalone site. However, eBay will use Hunch’s software to give shoppers meaning suggestions tailored to their interests, helping them find items to buy.

 

According to eBay chief technology officer Mark Carges, eBay is intent on “engaging consumers in innovative ways and attracting top technologists to shape the future of commerce”.

 

“With Hunch, we’re adding new capabilities to personalising the shopping experience on eBay to the individual relevant tastes and interests of our customers,” Carges said in a statement.

 

“We expect Hunch’s technologies to benefit eBay shoppers as they browse and buy, and to bring sellers on eBay new ways to connect the right products with the right customers.”

 

According to Dixon, all Hunch employees will stay with the company. Hunch will continue to be based in New York in order to “remain active in the vibrant New York tech scene”.

 

Dixon says Hunch will be tackling “all kinds of interesting challenges” as part of eBay, including predictive merchandising, interpreting unstructured data and creating merchant insights.

 

Hunch isn’t the first recommendation site to attract the attention of a global company or investor. Earlier this month, Google Ventures poured funds into US-based mobile development lab Milk.

 

Milk recently announced its first mobile app, Oink, which lets users rate and discover things in the places around them, essentially serving as a directory and recommendation system.

 

On a local front, Domenic Carosa’s Future Capital Development Fund has invested in Melbourne-based online start-up TheAgendaDaily.com.

 

Led by Blake Hutchison, TheAgendaDaily.com offers customers handpicked recommendations and curated private sales, with a focus on restaurants, nightlife, shopping, style and leisure.

 

Carosa described the concept as “the next and logical evolution in group-buying”, suggesting recommendation sites will keep cropping up as consumers become more open to the idea.

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