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Walmart seeks to speak the customer’s language

Walmart intends to transform how customers shop with its latest start-up acquisition.

The discount giant has purchased Israeli Natural Language Processing (NLP) technology provider Aspectiva for an undisclosed sum. Walmart intends to leverage Aspectiva’s NLP capabilities to help further enhance its end-to-end shopping experience. NLP allows smart devices to understand and communicate with humans using their native spoken language.

“Aspectiva has developed incredibly sophisticated machine learning techniques and natural language processing capabilities, both of which are areas we believe will have profound impact on how customers will shop in the future,” said Lori Flees, principal of Store No. 8. “Israel is a hotbed of tech talent and innovation. We’re thrilled to join the growing community of entrepreneurs in Israel and see it expand within Aspectiva.”

As part of the acquisition, Aspectiva has joined Walmart’s Store No. 8 technology incubator. Store No. 8 works with startups that specialize in areas that include robotics, virtual and augmented reality, machine learning and artificial intelligence. The Aspectiva team will continue to operate from Aspectiva’s offices in Tel Aviv, Israel.

“Our team is extremely excited to be joining Store No. 8 and be part of Walmart’s most recent investment in Israel,” said Ezra Daya, CEO of Aspectiva. “Store No. 8’s record of innovation and of developing capabilities that will transform retail as we know it makes for the perfect environment to leverage Aspectiva’s technology throughout the shopping funnel.”

This is the latest activity for Walmart with Israeli-based technology companies. The company has also made a strategic investment in Team8, an Israeli think tank and tech incubator, launched a joint venture with Eko, an interactive media and technology company with offices in Tel Aviv and New York, and recently joined The Bridge, a technology accelerator connecting global companies with the technology start-up community in Israel.
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