French unicorn Algolia acquires Australian startup Search.io to create ‘blazing fast’ search engine

French unicorn Algolia acquires Australian startup Search.io to create ‘blazing fast’ search engine

French search and discovery platform Algolia has acquired Search.io, with the new parent to absorb the New South Wales-headquartered startup’s flagship product Neuralsearch into a single search engine.

While the acquisition price was undisclosed, media reports suggest Algolia paid more than $100 million for Search.io which operates a vector search engine that provides price performance at scale.

Search.io was founded in 2020 by Hamish Ogilvy, who will remain with the merged company in the new role of vice president of artificial intelligence.

In a blog post, Ogilvy said he was ‘surprised’ to learn how aligned the two companies were on vision, presenting an opportunity to bring together the ‘highly complementary’ businesses.

“This acquisition will enable us to accelerate the delivery of new features in semantic search technology as well as enhancing the distribution of the technology across hundreds of data centres globally,” Ogilvy said.

“You can also expect the Algolia uptime reliability, scalability, as well as access to additional features such as recommendation and personalisation. Significantly, this acquisition will provide you with access to the world's only API-First Search and Discovery platform with a hybrid search engine, which comprises both keyword and semantic search in a single API.

“The new hybrid engine will be blazingly fast, massively scalable, and, importantly, cost effective with proven return on investment. No other search solution offers this today.”

Headquartered in San Francisco but founded in 2012 by Parisian co-founders Nicolas Dessaigne and Julien Lemoine, Algolia offers a search-as-a-service product and has a valuation of US$2.25 billion following a recently completed US$150 million Series D.

The company has more than 10,000 customers, handles 1.5 trillion search queries per year, and boasts ultra-fast search results that appear milliseconds after users type in the search field.

Algolia says that with this acquisition, it is continuing its mission to revolutionise search and discovery by creating the world’s first platform with a hybrid search engine that comprises both keyword and semantic search in a single API.

“Our mission, vision and purpose is powering discovery. We’ve done this to date largely with keyword search. With the addition of the vector search engine from Search.io, we’re going to disrupt the search market significantly,” says Algolia CEO Bernadette Nixon said.

“We’ll be the only product on the market that combines keyword search with vector-based semantic and image search, along with vector-based recommendations.

“Vendor consolidation is back in vogue, and being able to get best in class capabilities from one provider is powerful in today’s economic climate.”

Nixon says the consolidation of the two companies enables Angolia to more effectively surface the most accurate and relevant results for users, whether they use specific keywords or natural human expressions.

“Industry-wide, retailers are leaving money on the table because it’s challenging to capture revenue from long tail search queries (such as ‘stunning fall outfit for mother of the bride’), which could potentially represent up to 55 per cent of all search queries today,” says Nixon.

“These low volume searches could collectively amount to millions of queries corresponding to millions of dollars in unfulfilled sales of less popular or searched for products.

“Our new Algolia hybrid search engine solves this long tail problem –  truly putting search on autopilot at a price point that is 90 per cent less than other vector-based search options.”

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