Pinterest hires Walmart CTO Jeremy King as head of engineering

  • “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.”

Forget Go, Google helps AI learn to book flights on the Web

“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.”

Artificial Intelligence ‘playing a role in 84% of households this Christmas’ –

Key findings:

  • Only 20% of people say they would trust AI to help them run their perfect Christmas Day
  • Yet 84% are already planning on using AI-powered technologies this holiday season
  • 70 per cent will use AI-powered ecommerce platforms to do their festive shopping
  • 67 per cent will use AI-powered music or video streaming services for their holiday entertainment
  • 30 per cent will use AI to help them get home for Christmas, from smart cars to AI-powered travel apps
  • 19 percent will use voice assistants, whether that’s to contact friends and family, search for Christmas trivia, or check the snow forecast

How Merchants Are Driving Conversions With Five Features –

  • “Just over eight in ten merchants — or 81.5 percent — had implemented site help live in the second quarter.
  • Just over seven in 10 merchants — or 72.5 percent — had implemented free shipping in the second quarter.
  • Approximately one-fourth of merchants — or 27.8 percent — had implemented rewards in the second quarter.
  • About half — or 48.2 percent — of merchants had implemented a guarantee or refund in the second quarter
  • About two-thirds — or 67.5 percent — of merchants had implemented product ratings, reviews or recommendations in the second quarter.”

And they’re off! Black Friday, the Super Bowl of shopping, kicks off holiday season


  • 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.

AI Vendor Research: Unbxd

Vendor: Unbxd
Headquarters: Mountain View, CA & Bangalore, India
Key Product:
Machine Learning Site Search & Merchandising
Product Recommendations
Articles about Unbxd:
Express, Ashley Homestore, HSN, Bed/Bath/Beyond, rue21
Pavan Sondur, CEO & Co-Founder, LinkedIn Profile
Prashant Kumar, Founder, LinkedIn Profile
Case Studies / Data:

Unbxd offers a Site Search Speed Test Report and a Free Commerce Search Study to analyze your customer experience.

AI eCommerce News – June 14th

This is the year that Salesforce is inserting its Einstein AI functionality into all of its products. Salesforce Commerce Cloud Einstein now has its share of technology innovations that enable retailers to provide shoppers with personalized, AI-powered experiences that span Web, mobile, social, in-store and more.
There’s a hierarchy of needs that applies to retail commerce customers, noted Dwight Moore, senior director for retail and GTM at Salesforce. They can be summed up as, ‘know me, remember me, make it easy for me, surprise and delight me, and make my life better.’”
It’s no secret that Artificial Intelligence i.e. AI has been touted as one of the biggest things to change the ecommerce industry. Currently estimated by eMarketer to be almost 7.3% of all global sales, the ecommerce industry is using AI to push the envelope. With increasing competition, all e-commerce platforms need to find smarter ways to engage with customers and anticipate their needs.”
CognitiveScale traces its roots to a number of IBM engineers who had in turn worked on Watson, the supercomputer project that works with A.I. and data analytics.  The company offers CortexOS, which is cloud based technology, to leverage data streams across predictive analytics. Those data streams come from customer sources (known as Engage) and employee sources (known as Amplify).  Unstructured data sources come from social media and other sites and sources including mobile apps and call centers.”

“In industries like CPG, brand sales are declining, or at the very least growth is stalling. Many brands are looking to ecommerce, which represents 20 to 40 percent of overall sales in China, to drive sales back to a healthy level. This means brands are relying on ecommerce giants like to help them achieve scale.”

Vendor Research: EasyAsk

Vendor: EasyAsk    
Headquarters: Burlington, MA
Key Product:
EasyAsk for B2C, B2B, Mobile
Key Features:
Natural Language Search
Voice-enabled Natural Language Mobile Search
Integrations: Magento, NetSuite, Infor, IBM, Hybris
Articles/Posts about EasyAsk:
Clients: North Face, Timberland, True Value, Aramark

Craig Bassin, CEO – LinkedIn Profile
Dr. Larry R. Harris, Founder and Advisor – LinkedIn Profile
– “Our sales per search session increased by 23% when we added EasyAsk to our WebSphere platform.” Cal Bouchard, Sr. Director Of Ecommerce At The North Face

– Personalization Mall’s conversion rate exceeds industry averages by 2-3x

AI, Visual Data, Semantic Search and the Fashion Industry

“Major technology companies and new startups are at war over having the most valuable artificial intelligence and at the core of this war is having unique high quality visual data.
Fei-Fei Li, Director of the Stanford University Artificial Intelligence Lab and Chief Scientist AI/ML at Google Cloud says, ‘As nature discovered early on, vision is one of the most powerful secret weapons of an intelligent animal to navigate, survive, interact and change the complex world it lives in…The only path to build intelligent machines is to enable it with powerful visual intelligence…While many are searching for the ‘killer app’ of vision, I’d say, vision is the ‘killer app’ of AI and computing.’
Computer vision expert and Professor Computer Vision at Cornell Tech, Serge Belongie says ‘A majority of the human brain involves processing of visual data, for purposes such as scene interpretation and spatial navigation. Visual data is central to the way we learn about the world, and it follows that the pursuit of intelligent machines will require substantial advances in our ability to process and interpret visual data.’”
“Two separate research studies, funded by Apptus and carried out by IMRG and Hive, have found that fashion retailers are planning significant investment in artificial intelligence (AI) over the next two years, as they seek to deliver the ‘real time relevant’ customer experiences that are vital to improving sales performance.
– 52% will invest in AI for online merchandising in the next 12 month
– 67% of respondents said AI would help to improve organisational efficiency
– 62% said it would enable them to deliver an enhanced customer experience
– 58% said it would help them to make more effective use of big data
Asked to identify the areas of their businesses that will benefit the most from automation in the coming 3-5 years, scoring each out of 10, they awarded personalisation a score of 7.9 and online merchandising: 7.8. By contrast customer service scored five out of ten.”
“Semantic search uses both Natural Language Processing and Artificial Intelligence to understand long search terms (like chocolate bars under 5 dollars). By using Machine Learning techniques it can also develop an ability to understand the customer’s’ intent (i.e. identify the typos, recognize synonyms, show related products) as opposed to focusing only on specific keywords.
The concept of Semantic search not entirely new. Apple’s Siri, Amazon Echo, and Google Assistant use similar technology to understand people’s speech.
Apart from improved ability to present relevant products to the customers, there are many other benefits of Semantic search over the traditional Textual one.”
“Alibaba has also used artificial intelligence to handle the volume of inquiries from consumers through chatbots. As of March, AI technology was handling millions of customer inquiries daily.

During the quarter, Alibaba made its AI technology available to merchants on its marketplaces through a service called ‘store concierge.’ It uses natural language processing to help merchants handle consumer inquiries such as returns and refunds, especially during peak promotional seasons. It also supports personalized recommendations and promotions and discount information.”

AI Vendor Research: Cognitive Scale

Vendor: Cognitive Scale
Headquarters: Austin, TX
Key Products:
Engage – ENGAGE is a secure cloud-based service that uses machine learning, NLP, and advanced analytics to provide advice and insights to shoppers, associates, and buyers.
Impact at 3 levels
  • Transform shopper experience
  • Empower omni-channel associates
  • Enlighten merchants & marketers

Articles about Cognitive Scale:
14% Increased conversion
380% Increased engagement
15% Increase $/session
With Watson, IBM Bluemix, Deloitte, Intel Capital, Microsoft Ventures, Amazon Web Services
Clients: Barclays, Morgan Stanley, Macys, Nestle, P&G
Leadership (C-Suite):
Manoj Saxena – Chairman – LinkedIn Profile
Matt Sanchez – Founder & CTO – LinkedIn Profile
Akshay Sabhikhi – CEO – LinkedIn Profile
Nij Chawla – Chief Product Officer – LinkedIn Profile
10-10-10 method to build your first cognitive app in 10 hours; customize it using your own data in 10 days; go live within 10 weeks.