Coveo recently announced the acquisition of Tooso, an AI-based digital commerce engines company, to accelerate and expand its capabilities for the digital commerce market.
We sat down with two of the company’s founders, Ciro Greco and Mattia Pavoni, to learn more about why they are joining Coveo and what’s in store from their team.
What interested you in joining Coveo?
Ciro: There were two major reasons. First, the technology. Tooso is a natural language processing and AI company that combines language with data science, and we primarily focused on the commerce industry. Bringing this into Coveo as it expands into the ecommerce market seemed like a very natural fit and collaboration.
Second, I would say the DNA of Coveo. There are a lot of companies that are researching and developing AI without a real impact or client in mind. We’ve always been a company that believes in cutting edge technology but only if it impacts people’s life.
Coveo is not “science fiction;” this is AI that works, and it works well for thousands of companies and is deployed on an impressive scale. We want to be a part of that.
Q: How did you get into this field?
Ciro: It was a journey for us. We studied philosophy in the beginning and become really passionate about representing reasoning in language. I ended up getting a doctoral degree in neuroscience from The University of Milan-Bicocca, then I ended up in MIT and Ghent University, where I researched semantics and syntax at the intersection between cognitive sciences and linguistics. I started realizing that what I was researching and developing in academia could be very useful in many industries, but there was no overlap with industry.
Jacopo Tagliabue, our CTO and fellow co-founder, was the best of the two worlds. He pursued a PhD in cognitive science as well, but focusing more on ontology and knowledge representations. At the same time, he has been working as a data scientist and AI expert in the industry since 2007.
We both wanted to build something together that put together our areas of expertise. So, in late 2016, I started thinking about transitioning from academia to tech.
Mattia: I met Ciro in 2002 when we studied together in Milan. I started a career in academia studying decision theory at University Vita-Salute San Raffaele, but then moved over to management consulting. I eventually became responsible for large digital transformation projects in Italy, including a few massive projects in the commerce space. I then moved to Germany to work for one of the largest system integrators, where I helped retail organizations build their technology stack. I was the buyer. Then, I moved “across the river” to shape the product as a seller with Tooso.
Why did you start Tooso?
Ciro: We saw a real need to create more human experiences with machines in a way that is “less data greedy” than other options. In the search box, users are interacting with organizations through language without having to create massive trove of data. Tooso enabled organizations to use language to create a connection with their customers and deliver a better experience.
Mattia: There was a real need in the market. We saw how much time, money and resources went into creating these complex rules and algorithms to segment users. This is a lot of effort from clients and the big players in this market are a generation behind the technology. Retailers are used to rule-based engines and manual boosting, but we wanted to replace those systems with a different kind of product that didn’t require any additional workload on the client side.
How is the #CoveoLife so far?
Ciro: My first introduction to Coveo was really at Coveo Impact, followed by Coveo Elevate, the all-company meeting two weeks ago. Before that, I had only met the executive team. I knew that the executives were passionate about what Coveo does, but I did not expect to see that level of commitment and passion from every single employee. I didn’t meet anyone who described Coveo as just a job; this company is doing big things and you could tell from every employee. They also really took the time to take care of every employee. Their approach to growth also mirrored what we hoped to achieve at Tooso: steady and consistent growth over a long period of time.
Mattia: We’re from Europe, but had lived in the U.S. for a while. It was important for us to find a company that feels like home for us and with Coveo, we found it. The week we spent in Quebec City at the all-company meeting, Coveo Elevate, was amazing. The team gave us a standing ovation onstage before we had even presented anything! We’re excited to see what we can accomplish together.
If you’d like to find out more about Coveo’s plans for Commerce and Tooso, please contact us to learn more.