We recently advised global VC funds, Rakuten Ventures and WI Harper, on the US$10.5million series B investment in global A.I. startup, ViSenze.  Using machine learning, ViSenze develops visual search and image recognition technology solutions for retailers and digital content publishers.  For example, online shoppers can upload an image and use ViSenze’s technology to recommend visually similar products on e-commerce platforms, or within other digital published content.

The startup was a spin out from the National University of Singapore three years ago and raised US$3.5million in 2014.  The company has had significant growth working with e-commerce platforms in Asia and elsewhere, creating exciting online shopping experiences.  The company is now looking to develop new technology for video that will benefit both content publishers and advertisers.

This kind of A.I. technology, which focusses closely on visual attributes, is likely to become even smarter over time.  In the retail space at least, we can expect visual or customizable search solutions search to eventually replace much of our keyword searching.  Particularly once the conversion rates for retailers using such solutions starts to materially increase.  Maybe too early to predict but the days of online shoppers key typing a description of a retail product into Google may soon be over.

Rakuten Ventures is the venture capital arm of Rakuten Group, the Japanese e-commerce giant.  The US$200 million fund has invested globally, including across Southeast Asia, in Japan, Korea and the US.  Based in the US, China and Taiwan, WI Harper is a global leader in cross-border investments.

by , 21 September 2016