Nike picks up Boston-based AI startup

Charlie Spargo's picture

Sportswear giant Nike has spent an undisclosed sum to acquire artificial intelligence startup Celect, in order to work on its direct-to-consumer strategy.

Nike has recently increased its efforts to acquire a range of companies, with the goal of working "more personally at scale" with customers - managing, it hopes, to reach consumers more closely, at the same time as reaching many more.

Others taken under the Nike umbrella include Virgin Mega, a digital design studio; Zodiac, specialists in consumer data analytics; and Invertex, a computer vision firm that supports eCommerce.

Celect's cloud-based predictive analytics and demand-sensing platform was launched in 2013 to help sellers optimise their inventories. It will help Nike predict the styles of shoes and apparel app and website visitors want. According to Nike's COO, Eric Sprunk, it will help them also work out when and where they want to buy.

When demand spikes, the intention is that Nike will be ready because of the Celect tech, while out-of-stock rates should be reduced too. 

As part of the contract, the startup's Co-founders will continue to work as professors at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), while consulting with Nike.

Sprunk said: "We have to anticipate demand. We don’t have six months to do it. We have 30 minutes.”

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