Reddit snaps up Spell to boost user experience with machine learning

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Founded by a former Facebook engineer, Spell will help Reddit personalise content and ads using AI and ML.

Reddit has acquired machine learning platform Spell for an undisclosed sum to make content more relevant to users and communities on its platform.

Spell was founded in 2016 by former Facebook engineer Serkan Piantino to make it easier for technology teams to run machine learning experiments at scale without needing much fancy hardware.

Future Human

The platform’s machine learning technology is expected to help Reddit bolster its own capabilities, allowing it to improve speed and relevance on its platform across product, safety and advertising.

“Reddit’s mission is to bring community, belonging and empowerment to everyone in the world, and one of the ways we do this is by connecting people to the topics, interests and passions they care about the most,” the self-proclaimed ‘front page of the internet’ said in a statement.

“Machine learning and artificial intelligence are important tools that help us make these connections faster and more relevant to people.”

Spell’s team members are now moving to Reddit to spearhead new machine learning projects, the company added. This projects will relate to how it identifies and classifies contextual relevance, organises conversations, customises ad placements and protects communities.

“Spell has made product experimentation scalable, enabling engineers to efficiently build and run tests on a platform that already integrates the best high-powered computing in a simple UI that makes it simple for non-technical teams to understand and track,” said Reddit product chief Pali Bhat.

Reddit has been using technologies such as machine learning to improve user experience on its site by suggesting relevant content and communities. In February, it launched a new Discover Tab on its mobile app for personalised recommendations and improved navigation.

The company confirmed that Spell CEO Piantino will now lead a “hyper-focused team” as Reddit’s vice-president of foundational product, reporting directly to Bhat.

“Serkan and his team are a great fit and we look forward to seeing how their capabilities and talent help us make Reddit simpler, richer and more relevant,” Bhat said.

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