Pinterest acquires Kosei for improved ad targeting

Steven Loeb · January 21, 2015 · Short URL:

The recommendation engine will help Pinterest provide better recommendations for its users

Pinterest is still a relatively new player on the social media scene, at least compared to companies like Twitter and Facebook, but it has already become the go-to network for driving sales. In the week leading up to the big Thanksgiving Day sales last year, for example, Pinterest saw referral sales that were higher than those coming from Facebook.

That is why, for Pinterest, it is imperative to give its users the best recommendations possible. So it has acquired a company that will help it do just that, purchasing recommendation engine Kosei, the company announced in a blog post on Wednesday. No financial terms were disclosed.

Kosei, which is still in stealth mode and had not yet launched anything public, has built what Michael Lopp, head of Pinterest engineering calls, "a unique technology stack that drives commerce by making highly personalized and powerful product recommendations."

The company has built a graph that understands more than 400 million relationships between 30 million products in order to give "highly personalized and powerful product recommendations."

Pinterest already uses machine learning for multiple uses, including to detect spam content and users, to provide recommendations and related content, for ad performance and relevance prediction, and to determine which emails to send and prevent churn.

The company told VatorNews that it bought Kosei for its technology and, as such, the Kosei service will be shutting down. The founders of the company will be joining Pinterest in its San Francisco office, with other members of the team potentially joining down the line as well. The company seems have a total of seven employees, according to its website

The team will report to Lopp and work on the discovery and monetization engineering teams to accelerate Pinterest's efforts in targeting, measurement and ads formats as it rolls out Promoted Pins.

Pinterest debuted its first ad product, Promoted Pins, in 2013, ramped them up last year, introduced its first partners in May, and, on the strength of those limited tests, announced it would be opening them up to all advertisers at the beginning of 2015.

“Recommendations and ads systems are rapidly changing due to the confluence of mobile and personalization. The Kosei team and technology will help us accelerate our ad efforts by offering marketers more solutions to tap into our growing and valuable data set and object graph," Joanne Bradford, head of Pinterest partnerships, told VatorNews.

"This year we’ll provide the best ads canvas with the most actionable insights to reach an engaged and passionate brand-centric audience.”

This is Pinterest's sixth startup acquisition so far. It had previously purchased recipe recommendation service Punchfork; local recommendation service Livestar;  code challenging website Hackermeter; visual search technology company VisualGraph; and visual organization tool Icebergs.

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