Facebook acquires visual shopping start-up GrokStyle

Bloomberg

Sun, Feb 10, 2019 - Page 5

Facebook Inc said it has acquired visual shopping and artificial intelligence (AI) start-up GrokStyle Inc in a move to bolster the social media company’s own AI work.

GrokStyle’s technology, which was integrated into IKEA’s mobile app, is simple in practice. A user takes a picture of a piece of furniture and the technology matches it to similar products that could be purchased online.

On its Web site, GrokStyle said it is “winding down” its business, but that it is “moving on as a team” along with its technology.

The company did not disclose it was joining Facebook.

“We are excited to welcome GrokStyle to Facebook,” Facebook spokeswoman Vanessa Chan said in a statement. “Their team and technology will contribute to our AI capabilities.”

She declined to disclose a purchase price.

Facebook could use the underlying AI technology and GrokStyle’s employees to bolster its own efforts in the field.

The start-up’s specific technology also makes sense for Facebook Marketplace, the company’s service for buying and selling items from other Facebook users on its social network.

The GrokStyle purchase marks the second reported acquisition by Facebook this year. Earlier this month, the company bought the team behind blockchain technology company Chainspace for an undisclosed sum.

The company purchased at least four firms last year, including start-ups focused on messaging and AI.