Syte, which uses visual AI technology to aid retailers, landed an investment of $21.5 million the company announced Monday. Syte plans to grow its reach across the United States, Europe and Asia; open a new office in San Francisco and expand its New York space; and hire about 70 new employees in Israel and the U.S. The funding will enable the visual product discovery company to invest in visual AI research and development, and introduce its latest product, visual AI personalization.
The funding round was led by Viola Ventures with assistance from Storm Ventures, Commerce Ventures, Axess Ventures and Lyra Ventures. The fresh investment pushes the company's total funding to date to $30 million.
Syte plans to quadruple its user base in 2020 by "focusing on enterprise and SMEs, strengthening current relationships, and building new ones," it stated in a company blog post. Syte currently works with companies like Boohoo, Marks & Spencer and Tommy Hilfiger.
The expansion of search options is one of several larger retail technology trends in 2019, along with mobile and voice search. With this latest cash infusion, Syte appears to be positioning itself toward being one of the go-to startups for AI-enhanced visual search. In December 2018, the company partnered with Farfetch to support the online luxury retailer's image search feature within its iOS shopping app.
As Syte gears up to expand its clientele, other retailers have turned to competitors for similar technologies. Retailers like Walmart, Target and Wayfair have enlisted the help of companies like Hayneedle and Pinterest, the latter of which expanded visual search to ads in May 2017.
Syte's competitors have also been raising funds to enhance retailers' visual search capabilities. Donde, another visual search firm, raised $6.5 million this February. Meanwhile, retailers like Forever 21 and Asos have seen boosts in engagement and sales after introducing visual search functions. Syte's latest funding round heats up the race for dominating the retail visual search market.