Earlier this month Walmart India acqui-hired Bengaluru-based artificial intelligence and data analytics startup, int.AI with an aim to strengthen its India engineering team. The startup, which was founded in 2016 by Vinay Kumar NP and Praneeth Doguparthy, pioneered in building AI-powered personal data analyst for business executives.
As a part of the recent deal, Kumar and Doguparthy are slated to join Walmart’s health and wellness portfolio under Customer Technology at Walmart Labs, along with one another employee from the team. It is interesting to note that this is Walmart’s second acqui-hiring move after Appsfly, a startup which Walmart had acquired three months ago. This deal too resulted in Appsfly team joining the Walmart Lab’s customer experience engineering group.
Both these acquisitions align with the fact that the company is looking to acquire at least three to five startups in a year to push its innovations, which it had been quite vocal about in the past. Walmart Labs has one of its three global offices in Bengaluru where 90 percent of its work for India is executed.
Why Is Walmart Eying A Strong ML and DS Team?
Ever since the acquisition of 77% stake in Flipkart, Walmart has been proactively looking to add more talent into its tech team, for which acqui-hiring model is working quite effectively for them. They have been working extensively to re-define the shopping experience to meet the changing needs of its customers in the store, website and mobile devices — all alike.
Since the time Walmart Labs has set up a centre in Bengaluru, which is one of its main offices, it is rapidly looking to add staff and expand the scope of work that it handles. We had earlier covered an article on how machine learning and AI are crucial at Walmart. It extensively uses ML algorithms for everything—from organising inventory data to enhancing the customer shopping experience.
The company collects customer data to generate actionable insights and improve personalisation and recommendation among others. Hari Vasudev, country head and vice-president for technology at Walmart Labs India had earlier said that it is important for them to invest heavily in creating a seamless customer experience to let them shop anytime and anywhere.
If we look at their current job openings in India, they are aggressively looking to hire people in roles such as data analysts, business intelligence, data scientist, associate data scientists, senior architect- big data, and other technology areas. The company had reportedly said that it is looking to hire 2,000 engineers across the world, including India. It was only last year, that Walmart had hired Hari Vasudev from Flipkart to head its Bengaluru office.
The company believes that India has a large pool of qualified engineers with a strong math background, which it is trying to tap on. It is especially looking to hire senior tech talent in Bengaluru.
How Will Int.AI Benefit Walmart?
The Walmart team believes that int.AI’s expertise will be a great addition to their data analytics capabilities. The int.AI team had earlier been involved in building and architecting analytics automation framework that will support Walmart Labs in developing solutions and supporting large-scale businesses.
The int.AI team brings extensive experience in building data products, solving data problem in an organisation, designing algorithms, building intelligent systems, creating a framework for products, profiling metrics, defining the utility of each these metrics and more. The team had also built its own AI-powered virtual assistant ‘Gin’ and therefore have also worked in the space of developing rules to be fed into the rule engine for virtual analyst bot to identify patterns, detect anomalies and more.
As Walmart aims to make its team strong in the areas of merchandising, machine learning, supply chain experience, data science and cloud, the expertise by int.AI founders will help in the long run. Post Flipkart acquisition, Walmart is aggressively expanding its India operations and make their machine learning and data science team strong.
With int.AI’s acquisition, Walmart will use its expertise in blending machine learning with data analytics to uncover insights that significantly impact business metrics. Walmart is trying to leverage int.AI’s strength in analytics and machine learning, as it has built capabilities in analysing data and sharing it with targeted users. They had also developed a reliable enterprise data platform.
The int.AI team will continue to apply what they have learnt in order to help optimise the shopping experience for millions of customers. “It excites us to get our hands on data at Walmart scale!” int.AI founder had said. They are looking to automate the role of a business analyst using natural language programming and advanced clustering algorithms. “We are going to bring them in and add them to the customer technology team,” they added.
On A Concluding Note
The concept of acqui-hire has been gaining a lot of traction in tech space as companies are looking to bring startup entrepreneurs into their team. The popularity can be attributed to the fact that there is little or no money involved and is an efficient way to overcome talent shortage. In the past, Airtel acquired Authme, an AI-based solution firm to snap its founders Shardul Shirkant Lavekar and Parth Mudgal.