EBay buys Hunch to boost recommendations

SAN FRANCISCO Mon Nov 21, 2011 4:29pm EST

Hunch founders (L- R) Chris Dixon, Matt Gattis, Tom Pinckney in a photo taken November 21, 2011. REUTERS/Courtesy of Hunch

Hunch founders (L- R) Chris Dixon, Matt Gattis, Tom Pinckney in a photo taken November 21, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Courtesy of Hunch

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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - EBay (EBAY.O) said it acquired the data analysis firm Hunch to help it develop more recommendation technology for its online marketplace.

Chris Dixon, Tom Pinckney and Matt Gattis, who founded Hunch in 2009, will stay on at eBay and remain based in New York. The purchase price was not disclosed.

Hunch analyzes data from social networks like Facebook and from questionnaires to make personal recommendations. EBay said Hunch will help it suggest relevant products for shoppers on its online marketplace.

This is the latest in a string of acquisitions by eBay as it tries to revive its online marketplace, which has lost market share in recent years to Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O), the world's largest retailer.

Most retailers, like Amazon, have inventory that they can catalog and use to recommend related products to customers. In contrast, eBay's Marketplaces business offers items from other sellers, and a lot of the products are used and unique. This creates a lot of unstructured data that is harder to analyze for search and recommendations.

"Hunch was solving a similar problem with unstructured data," said Mark Carges, chief technology officer at eBay. "The type of technologies were similar enough that this makes sense."

Hunch's Dixon said the company was attracted by the large amount of data eBay has amassed. Becoming part of eBay will give Hunch unfettered access to analyze this information.

(Reporting by Alistair Barr; editing by John Wallace)

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