Auction house Sotheby’s has acquired image recognition and recommendation startup Thread Genius. With this technology, Sotheby’s will be better positioned to serve customers by using AI to find and recommend artwork to potential customers based on their own preferences. The technology will be used in conjunction with the data the auction house gathers and stores.
Thread Genius is behind software that intelligently identifies artwork and recommends similar artwork based on it. The startup’s website offers a preview of this technology, allowing users to select one piece of artwork, then view related pieces. The user can also select just a portion of an existing image and then get artwork recommendations based on that selection.
It’s easy to see how Sotheby’s would be interested in this type of technology. The auction house is home to a large variety of artwork; many buyers are interested in acquiring pieces and may have a style in mind, but struggle to translate that preference into actual purchases.
Based on wording in Sotheby’s acquisition announcement, it seems the auction house will use the tech to recommend artwork to customers based on the info it has stored on buyers. “Historically,” Sotheby’s CEO Tad Smith said, “transactions would come together by matching an object with an individual’s preference at a certain price point, and Sotheby’s retains data in those three areas.”
Thread Genius’s technology can speed up that matching process while offering “better insights,” according to Smith. The terms of the acquisition weren’t revealed, however Sotheby’s says the startup’s founders will be joining the auction house soon.