“Just a few days after VentureBeat reported that Pinterest chief technology officer (CTO) Vanja Josifovski was jumping ship for Airbnb, the game of musical chairs is continuing with news that Pinterest has hired Walmart CTO Jeremy King as its new head of engineering.
The announcement comes less than 24 hours after an internal memo revealed that King was leaving Walmart after nearly eight years at the company. Most recently, King served as EVP and CTO for Walmart U.S., where he spearheaded the company’s ecommerce technology efforts.
Pinterest is, of course, an entirely different kind of business from Walmart — but there are enough similarities to make King a good fit for the role. The San Francisco-based company has evolved a great deal over the past decade, transitioning from being an online social pinboard of sorts to become more of a “visual discovery engine” that leans heavily on computer vision and artificial intelligence. A big part of its current business is making it easier for people to buy things that they see online and in the real world.”
“Researchers at Google’s AI labs created a couple of novel neural networks that can succeed in navigating Web forms, such as an online flight-booking site. Although baby steps at the moment, the program succeeds as well or better than some models trained using human demonstrations of pointing and clicking.
“As an example, in the flight-booking environment the number of possible instructions/tasks can grow to more than 14 millions, with more than 1700 vocabulary words and approximately 100 Web elements at each episode.
The first, “QWeb,” is a Deep Q-Network that is enhanced by breaking up the webpage into rewards for each step in a travel booking exercise, such as entering the date of a flight. That tends to increase the rewards that the neural net receives as it goes along.
The second, called “INET,” is another Deep Q-Network that gets rewards as it properly generates instructions for QWeb to follow. It’s the INET’s job to digest the Web page, in the form of a “document-object model,” or “DOM,” and come up with the steps QWeb should take to make choices in the Web form, such as picking an airport code from a drop-down list of “destinations” in the form.”
On Thanksgiving Day, the traffic flowing through mobile devices represented 68 percent of all online traffic, according to Salesforce. And 54 percent of all digital orders that day were made through smart phones, the most of any day this year and roughly 30 percent more than in 2017.
Social media is also playing a growing role, with nearly 8 percent of traffic on Thanksgiving Day generated by platforms like Instagram and Facebook — a more than 40 percent uptick over 2017.
Digital research firm eMarketer has similar figures, saying that e-commerce spending will rise 16.6% to $123.73 billion, making up 12.3% of total holiday retail sales — the largest chunk ever.