Target ups data analytics game through series of 'acqui-hire' deals

Dive Brief:

  • Target divulged a series of four "acqui-hire" deals within the last two years, snapping up startups focused on technologies that can increase its data analytics capabilities.
  • The first deal was with Powered Analytics, which specializes in machine learning using open-source tools and technologies; Kvantum works with applied mathematics; Akuda Labs was brought on board for its computing engine, and Zettata was acqu-hired for its search and database acumen. Financial details were not disclosed.
  • In a blog post confirming the deals, Target Senior Vice President Paritosh Desai said acqui-hire arrangements are a valuable way of quickly feeding Target with new talent and technology. “It’s predominantly talent, technology and the cultural fit that goes with it. Acqui-hires allow us to accelerate both onboarding the right kind of talent, onboarding the right kind of technologies and getting to market much faster.”

Dive Insight:

Target’s technology strategy and organization have been undergoing a major shift in recent years. Some of what it has been doing has been public knowledge for a while now, such as the retailer’s effort to cut its technology spending, rely less on technology outsourcing and keep more projects in-house.

Acqui-hires present an interesting option for companies like Target. They often involve startups small enough that no one notices what's happening when it's happening, and don't materially affect that larger company at the outset. As Desai pointed out, they also can represent a quick method of bringing specialized tech talent in-house exactly when it's needed. Target has shown some preference for doing more tech work in-house, and not relying as much on external partners, and these deals absolutely fit that philosophy.

Tech investment is tough business. To compete, you often need to move more quickly than you would like to. Acqui-hiring may present Target with a low-key and often inexpensive way to add talent and technology to its roster when it needs to quickly shift away from one tech strategy and toward a different one. 

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Filed Under: Recruiting