Algolia disrupts market with Search.io acquisition, ushering in a new era of search and discovery

Acquisition creates world’s first and only hybrid search engine combining Keyword and Vector Search in a single API, enabling retailers to capture additional 70% long tail business at 90% less cost

September 8, 2022, 03:00 PM Coordinated Universal Time

San Francisco – September 12, 2022Algolia, the leading API-First Search & Discovery Platform, today announced the acquisition of Search.io, whose flagship product is Neuralsearch™ – a vector search engine that uses hashing technology on top of vectors to provide unprecedented price performance at scale. Algolia will combine its market leading keyword search and Search.io’s Neuralsearch into a single API.

The digital world is evolving rapidly, and so is the manner in which people search and gather information. Dramatic progress in the world of technology, shifting consumer preferences, and the need for instant gratification and value are fast disrupting the Search and Discovery market. However, a few key tenets remain the same: the desire to make search and discovery intuitive, extremely fast, and massively scalable, while remaining affordable and easy to implement.

With this acquisition, Algolia stays true to these tenets while revolutionizing search and discovery by providing the world's first and only API-First Search and Discovery platform with a hybrid search engine, which comprises both keyword and semantic search in a single API. This new API platform is blazing fast, massively scalable, and, importantly, cost effective. No other vendor offers this today.

“Our mission, vision and purpose is powering discovery. We’ve done this to date largely with keyword search. With the addition of the vector search engine from Search.io, we’re going to disrupt the search market significantly,” said Bernadette Nixon, chief executive officer, Algolia. “We’ll be the only product on the market that combines keyword search with vector-based semantic and image search, along with vector-based recommendations. Vendor consolidation is back in vogue, and being able to get best in class capabilities from one provider is powerful in today’s economic climate.”

The combination of two search pioneers – Algolia (with its powerful keyword search) and Search.io (with its groundbreaking vector-based semantic search) – enables Algolia to more effectively surface the most accurate and relevant results for users, whether they use specific keywords or natural human expressions. Many companies claim to offer some form of semantic search, however, these companies do not offer the capabilities of keyword search and vector-based semantic search in a single API cost-effectively, nor do they have the ability to scale. In essence, Algolia provides users with the ability to search as they think.

“Industry-wide, retailers are leaving money on the table because it’s challenging to capture revenue from long tail search queries (such as ‘stunning fall outfit for mother of the bride’), which could potentially represent up to 55% of all search queries today,” noted Nixon. “These low volume searches could collectively amount to millions of queries corresponding to millions of dollars in unfulfilled sales of less popular or searched for products. Our new Algolia hybrid search engine solves this long tail problem –  truly putting search on autopilot at a price point that is 90% less than other vector-based search options.”

Algolia’s acquisition of Search.io comes on the heels of a significant 2022 hiring stint, with the company creating more than 145 new jobs in Q2 alone and doubling its employee population over the past year. 

Nixon added, “Welcoming the Search.io team, and launching our hybrid search engine represents the start of Algolia’s next chapter. Integrating vector search with our keyword search provides a groundbreaking launchpad for us to solve more of our customers’ search and discovery problems, and deliver a price advantage they won’t see elsewhere.”  

With Search.io, Algolia can empower business users with a better way to manage the automation of unique and engaging end user experiences. 

“We are delighted to be joining a world-class leader in search and discovery,” said Hamish Ogilvy, chief executive officer and co-founder, Search.io. "Delivering on the promise of AI search has traditionally required tremendous internal expertise and engineering resources to work effectively. Beyond delivering better search experiences, this must also be done reliably, fast and cost effectively. Algolia has led the world in delivering highly redundant, globally distributed instant search using more than 100 data centers worldwide. This global search distribution network combined with vector-based semantic search using extremely fast and efficient neural hash technology is an exciting and truly unique solution."

About Search.io
Search.io offers a search and discovery service with powerful AI engines, including Neuralsearch™, the world’s first instant AI search technology, and reinforcement learning for self-optimizing results. Businesses of all sizes use Search.io to build site search and discovery solutions that maximize e-commerce revenue, optimize on-site customer experience, and scale their online presence. Search.io currently serves billions of API requests every month on more than a thousand sites globally including BBC, Catch, Lockheed Martin, NSW Government, Rentpath, Sennheiser, Unity and many more. 

About Algolia
Algolia is revolutionizing search and discovery by providing the world's most powerful API-First Search and Discovery Platform with its unique hybrid search engine, which is a combination of keyword and vector-based semantic search via NeuralSearch technology, in a single API. Algolia empowers both builders and business users with a better way to build unique and engaging end user experiences at Internet scale to predict what customers want with blazing fast speed and the best application browse experience leading to more remarkable Discovery. Algolia is your guide to the world’s content powering discovery where you live, work, and play. Discovery, as a result, is reinvented as the right content finds each user to inform, enrich and surprise. More than 12,500 companies including Under Armour, Birchbox, Stripe, Slack, Medium, and Zendesk rely on Algolia to manage over 1.5 trillion search queries a year. Algolia is headquartered in San Francisco with offices in New York, Atlanta, Austin, Paris, London, Bucharest, and Sydney. To learn more, visit www.algolia.com.

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FAQs:
What does Search.io do? Who is Search.io?
Search.io is a vector based semantic search engine to which they apply a hashing technique, to deliver incredible accuracy for a fraction of the cost of other vector engine vendors.  Neuralsearch™ is the name of their product.  It’s  the world’s first instant AI search technology, and reinforcement learning for self-optimizing results. Businesses of all sizes use Search.io to build site search and discovery solutions that maximize e-commerce revenue, optimize on-site customer experience, and scale their online presence. Search.io currently serves a billion API calls every month for hundreds of sites globally including BBC, Catch, Lockheed Martin, NSW Government, Rentpath, Sennheiser, Unity and many more. 

Search.io’s mission is to “enable every organization to build smart search and discovery solutions.” The company was founded in 2014 by Hamish Ogilvy and David Howden (originally named Sajari, and recently rebranded to Search.io). 

Why did Algolia acquire Search.io?
Algolia is committed to leading the search and discovery market with continuing innovation by matching and surpassing customer expectations. 

This acquisition reinforces Algolia’s commitment to empower developers and builders with an API-first Search and Discovery Platform that seamlessly connects to any source, and makes it easier, faster, and more cost-effective to develop best-in-class user experiences leveraging an organization’s content. Algolia platform makes it an ideal search component for the modern, composable enterprise. It fits perfectly within an organization’s composable architecture e.g. composable commerce or headless ecommerce stack.

This expands Algolia’s current portfolio with the world’s first and only Hybrid engine combining Algolia’s Keyword search and Search.io’s semantic search to create a next generation API platform with blazing fast speed, at scale, and importantly very cost effectively. 

What does this acquisition mean for our customers and prospects?
With the acquisition of Search.io, we will disrupt the search and discovery market, in service of our customers who will now have a hybrid Search engine from one API and they’ll be able to provide the best end user experience and unlock the power of the long tail in addition to being able to address the most popular queries quickly. No other vendor can do this.

Our world is evolving rapidly and so is the manner in which people search and gather information. Dramatic progress in the world of technology, shifting consumer preferences, and the need for instant gratification and value are disrupting the search and discovery market. However, a few key tenets remain the same: the desire to make search and discovery intuitive, extremely fast, and massively scalable, while remaining affordable and easy to implement.

Algolia’s new hybrid search engine powers all kinds of search and discovery experiences including the ‘long tail’, where billions of search queries generate a relatively smaller number of monthly search volume.

In the past, companies had to make compromises while trying to optimize either keyword based searches or address queries expressed with natural long form expressions. No technology was good enough to address all of them with high quality and efficiency. Now, Algolia is bringing to market the industry’s first true hybrid engine to deliver the pioneering technology that can function equally well across the entire spectrum of the search and discovery requirements of any organization while keeping the cost and infrastructure requirements down to a minimum. No other technology solution can do so today with the depth and scale that Algolia offers.

Here are some key points to consider:

The seamless combination of keyword search and vector-based semantic search will empower any organization to deliver the best in class search and discovery experience to its end users whether they are using keywords, short or long form expressions, or natural language queries without any keywords.

Algolia is bringing to market its hybrid search engine in a single API. Algolia’s foundational philosophy was based on offering an API-First platform to developers so they can take a ‘plug and play’ approach to build their apps quickly and efficiently. APIs also enable developers with a number of additional benefits, including simplified integration to existing environments, faster time to value, ability to fine-tune and customize based on individual needs, and less developer resource requirement in back-end data processing and system maintenance.   

Algolia is an API-First Search and Discovery Platform, making it an ideal search component for the composable enterprise. Algolia platform fits perfectly within an organization’s composable architecture e.g. composable commerce or headless ecommerce stack – and importantly, developers don’t have to reinvent the wheel to implement them to create a highly relevant and engaging user experience. These user experiences encompass content and product search, navigation, browse, recommendation, and enterprise search

What is changing in the search landscape?
The search landscape is shifting significantly. According to a Google study, Google isn’t even the search destination for 40% of GenZs. TikTok and Instagram are, because GenZ’s are looking for immersive experiences, and don’t use keywords any more.  74% of shoppers believe text-based search is ineffective. 

Three trends are shaping the future of search:

  • Going beyond keyword Search with semantic search, image search, voice search via an underlying vector search engine or knowledge graph
  • Providing a composable, immersive application experience, discovery being a key component
  • Use of AI to process real time signals and customer behavior to personalize end user experience, and correspondingly inform key business decisions

Our customers want different things:

  • Developers want a better way to build, because it takes too long to build from scratch, and it’s hard to differentiate with less flexible SaaS solutions
  • Merchandisers want more automation, but at the same time they want to be able to control what they automate.  This control gives them the flexibility to manually curate collections for launching their new fall collection for a big splash, and also automate based on data in near real time to handle volume or to follow a long-tail strategy.

Why is Algolia's hybrid search engine unique?
Algolia’s new Hybrid Search Engine is unique compared to other vendors as follows:

  • Algolia combines both keyword search and vector-based semantic search in a single API. Organizations need to implement the Algolia Hybrid engine once to derive the benefits of both powerful technologies. Compared with knowledge graph based strategies that require manual interventions, this vector based approach ensures automated updates as new data comes in and new relationships that need to be established
  • In addition to easy implementation, Algolia’s rendition of semantic search helps organizations achieve value quickly. It does not need correcting mechanisms (e.g., rules, synonym dictionary, lemmatization dictionary etc.) and can operate on all queries automatically on day one with minimal tuning, even on the specific long tail of queries that are entered only a handful of times. This type of search is extremely valuable for interpreting common human languages, queries without specific keywords, or with a long tail of expressions.
  • Customers retain all the control of the Hybrid search, so that the right approach between keyword search and vector-based semantic search can be applied to the right use case.

What support can Search.io customers and partners expect?
The support process has not and will not change in the near term. Customers and partners can continue to contact Search.io through the same channels they already use for the foreseeable future. Algolia will continue to support Search.io customers using the current Search.io team, while leveraging Algolia’s worldwide resources.

Does this acquisition affect existing Search.io contracts?
Algolia will continue to honor all contracts with Search.io customers in accordance with the terms set forth in the original contracts. In fact, support will continue to be provided by the same individuals at Search.io for the foreseeable future. Ultimately, Search.io customers can expect to benefit from Algolia’s world-class customer service and support experts.