Alibaba invests in AI ecommerce search platform Twiggle

Alibaba has become the latest to invest in artificial intelligence ecommerce startup Twiggle, adding to its recent spate of headline-grabbing investments.

Twiggle is an AI platform that uses data and natural language systems to make search “more intuitive” and better adapted to some of the newer search forms, such as voice, mobile and conversational methods.

The Chinese ecommerce giant will likely be wanting to be close to startups like Twiggle as artificial intelligence starts to become a key part of web-based services like search and social, and filters into its heartland of online shopping.

It is the latest in a series of investments by Alibaba into emerging ecommerce technology, as well as major investments into new markets such as Southeast Asia via a major stake in Lazada.

For Twiggle, the Alibaba investment is the second part of series A funding that it has received, after the likes of Naspers, YJ Capital, State of Mind Ventures and Sir Ronald Cohen added $12.5 million in April.

The business has a strong pedigree in its founders; Dr. Amir Konigsberg, previously a Google employee in emerging markets and a former managing director of MySupermarket.com, and Dr. Adi Avidor, a former engineering tech lead at Google.

Konigsberg, said: “We’re redefining the way users engage with e-commerce, and we take it as the utmost validation of Twiggle’s vision and potential that a global company like Alibaba would join us on this journey. We are wholly focused on bringing the most advanced search experience and technologies to digital commerce to help this industry take a massive leap forward. Alibaba is an incredible company and we’re delighted to partner with them.”

Twiggle has also announced that Dr. Udi Manber, former chief scientist at Yahoo, founder and CEO of Amazon’s search unit A9, and head of search at Google, has joined the company’s board of directors. Additionally, Noa Ganot, former head of product in eBay’s structured data organization, has joined Twiggle as vice president of product.

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Charlotte McEleny

Charlotte McEleny is The Drum's Asia Editor, charged with finding all the interesting industry news and insights from the Asia Pacific region. During her year in Asia, she's covered topics as wide ranging as industry overwork to artificial intelligence, and interviewed top CMOs such as Alibaba's Chris Tung, and world famous creatives such as Rankin.

Based in Singapore, she travels the region regularly, attending and presenting at many top events, such as Spikes, Ad Week Asia and Innovfest.

Prior to her role as Asia Editor, she spent 10 years working across the London marketing trade magazines, even picking up an award for Best Digital Team at the PPA Digital Awards during her spell as digital editor at Marketing.

All by Charlotte