Salesforce Acquires PredictionIO To Build Up Its Machine Learning Muscle

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Salesforce has made another acquisition to build out its technology in machine learning and big data analytics: the company has acquired PredictionIO, a startup based out of Palo Alto that had developed an open source-based machine learning server.

Salesforce plans to use some of the tech to build out Salesforce’s own machine learning capabilities as part of SalesforceIQ, both in-house as well as in products for Salesforce customers, the startup’s CEO and co-founder Simon Chan said in a blog post announcing the acquisition. But the company will also continue to serve third-party developers, he added.

A Salesforce spokesperson has also confirmed the acquisition but without further elaboration. “Salesforce has signed a definitive agreement to acquire PredictionIO, but don’t have anything to share beyond [PredictionIO’s] blog post at this point,” she said.

Chan noted that the startup’s team — which includes other co-founders Donald Szeto, Kenneth Chan and Thomas Stone — will be joining Salesforce after the transaction closes.

You can think of PredictionIO as MySQL for machine learning, as Steve described it when the startup announced a $2.5 million seed round in 2014. The company’s tech, as an open source and essentially free product, makes it more affordable and faster for developers to build machine learning-based products like recommendation or prediction engines.

Originally called TappingStone when it was founded in 2012 in London, the startup at first had built a product that it described as “Machine Learning as a Service” before pivoting to an open source model.

Under that new direction, the company had developed some traction, with some 8,000 developers and 400 apps powered by its technology. As a point of reference, that’s double the number of developers in the community as of 2014.

Two things will be happening post-acquisition, Chan says.

First, PredictionIO’s tech will remain open source and free to use, while the team works on “evolving the project into a self-sustaining community.” As part of that the PredictionIO Cluster software on AWS Cloudformation will come down to $0. There is no word on whether Salesforce will plan to develop and support a paid enterprise edition of the product down the line.

Second, PredictionIO will be put to work at a very large, specific company: Salesforce itself. Specifically, it will become a part of SalesforceIQ’s machine learning capabilities to “enhance intelligence across the Salesforce clouds.”

“Being a part of Salesforce will give us an amazing opportunity to continue building our open source machine learning platform on a much larger scale,” Chan writes.

Salesforce has been making several other acquisitions in big-data analytics and machine learning, including most recently MinHash, but also customer relationship platform RelateIQ for $390 million in 2014 (which now forms the backbone of SalesforceIQ) and earlier this year, smart calendar startup Tempo AI. PredictionIO is Salesforce’s 36th acquisition.

Terms of the sale are not being disclosed. PredictionIO’s investors included 500 Startups, StartX, Sood Ventures and CrunchFund (headed up by TechCrunch’s former editor and founder, Michael Arrington).