Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s goal of transforming itself into a true technology company became closer to reality Tuesday, a day that also saw social media site Twitter’s shares fall sharply on the New York Stock Exchange.
Wal-Mart said that the technology and innovation arm of its global e-commerce team, @WalmartLabs, is bolstering its team of technologists. This week, the Silicon Valley-based lab welcomed 60 technologists from Adchemy to its existing team of 2,100 to specialize in areas like marketing, data analytics and semantic search.
Ten-year-old Adchemy, which specializes in product search and e-commerce technology, will help Wal-Mart develop e-commerce functionalities in-house for its 245 weekly customers worldwide.
Wal-Mart expects that the Adchemy team will work on a group of high-profile, “mission-critical projects related to Wal-Mart’s online platform, search, advertising technology, demand generation and analytics,” according to a spokesperson for the retailer.
The retailer founded the technology portion of its team, @WalmartLabs, three years ago. This marks the 12th acquisition since the lab’s inception. Web search categorization company Kosmix; mobile receipts technology Grabble; Facebook social reminders app Social Calendar; predictive data analytics company Inkiru, and recipe discovery and meal planning service Yumprint are among the companies that now sit under the @WalmartLabs umbrella.
It looks like these technologies are working. According to the @WalmartLab’s blog, an internal search engine developed by those on the Kosmix team resulted in a 20 percent lift in search conversion. Inkiru’s predictive analytics platform is now applied to all of Wal-Mart’s transactions.
The lab is in growth mode. Hires from acquisitions aside, 1,000 people have joined the @WalmartLabs team in the past year.
But Wal-Mart made it clear that @WalmartLabs’ work is not just limited to the digital space. About 50 percent of orders placed on walmart.com involve the physical store in some way — whether items are ordered online and picked up in store or shipping orders directly from store. For the brand, what they’re building in Silicon Valley is the digital solution for combining the best in e-commerce with the existing attributes of Wal-Mart’s brick-and-mortar locations.
As for Twitter, the firm’s shares fell 17.8 percent Tuesday to $31.85 as the six-month lock-up period following the company’s public offering ended, unleashing a torrent of trading as early investors and employees who were paid in stock let fly.
More than 134 million shares traded hands, more than 10 times the daily average for the past three months. Not among the sellers were cofounders Jack Dorsey and Evan Williams as well as chief executive officer Richard Costolo, all of whom said last month that they had no plans to sell any stock.
The microblogging site’s shares have come under increasing pressure. Its stock is down 57 percent since its peak just after Christmas and is trading below the $45.10 it garnered when it first hit the open market in November.
Tech stocks have been hit hard, but Twitter has been a particular focus as of late. The company’s been growing rapidly, but not rapidly enough for some. Investors were spooked when the company reported that growth in monthly active users had slowed to 25 percent in the first quarter from 30 percent in the fourth.
Many fashion brands are a steady presence on Twitter, which has rapidly growing revenues from ads, but posted $132.4 million in losses for the first quarter.
The platform, which has been mostly social, is inching toward more of a commerce footing.
This week, the company linked up with e-commerce giant Amazon, allowing users to add products to their Amazon shopping cart directly from their own Twitter feed by replying to messages with the #AmazonCart hashtag. The service works on tweets that include an Amazon product link.
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