Optimizely buys Synference to add machine learning

The Synference team will come to work on Optimizely's product and development groups

Financial trends and news by Steven Loeb
June 26, 2014
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A/B testing platform Optimizely helps thousands of small and medium sized companies, without the resources of a major tech giant, to test out multiple versions of their websites and apps.  The problem is that it takes a lot of technical know how to make multiple versions of a site, and it still take a long time.

One way to speed up that process is through machine learning, where the system would automatically be able to change its model based on people are interacting with it. Optimizely has now taken a big step toward adding that functionality by acquiring predictive analytics company Synference.

The deal, which was announced on Thursday, did not specificy any financial terms. The Synference team will be joining Optimizely as full-time staff members, working on the company's product and development groups. Synference will, presumably, be shut down.

Founded in 2013, and based in Dublin, Synference was founded in 2013 by Fergal Reidand Conrad Lee. The company's technology combined A/B testing and machine learning in order to detect patterns and insights, and updated its statistical model based on those patterns. That allowed companies to speed up the A/B testing process, and to tailor the experience to each specific visitor.

In short, it makes the entire A/B testing phase go quicker and smooth. So its no wonder that for Optimizely, it is exactly that technology that made it interested in buying Synference. The company says it plans to use Synference's machine learning technology expand its platform in order to "provide valuable insights and inform decisions."

"Machine learning can shorten feedback loops and inform a more effective optimization strategy. We looking forward to working with Fergal and Conrad to make this happen, and help our customers become even more successful," Pete Koomen, president and co-founder of Optimizely, said in a statement.

Meanwhile, for Synference, they will now use Optimizely's scale and reach in order to give the technology a chance to be used by even more people, and at a quicker pace.

"Joining Optimizely provides the opportunity to bring our machine learning optimization technology to the world's leading optimization platform. Optimizely and Synference are a natural fit, with a strong shared vision about how to turn data into action," the company wrote in a blog post on its homepage. "We look forward to solving the problems Synference set out to tackle on a much larger scale!"

Founded in 2010, Optimizely is a service that allows its customers to test out different versions of their websites, even if they have no technical expertise. They can test how each site varies in terms of live traffic, and gather immediate results.

The company has raised $88 million, most recently raising $57 million in Series B funding in May. 

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