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Rakuten leads funding round in tech startup Slice

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Ecommerce company Rakuten, owner of leading UK website and investor in Pinterest, has led a $23m funding round in Slice, a California-based tech startup.

Slice says its vision is to create “fun and useful apps that draw from the wealth of information buried in our inboxes to improve daily experiences.”

What that means is that Slice analyses users’ email mailboxes to extract data about their purchase history from Amazon, eBay, Apple, Groupon, LivingSocial and other retailers – and then uses that data to provide information back to the user in various ways.

One example of how the tech gets used in practice was when eBay last year used Slice to drive a tool called Stuff by eBay that scanned users’ emails and compiled a list of all the items they’d ever purchased.

Slice said its flagship app, Slice, “provides a simple way for consumers to manage all their purchases, organise receipts, track shipping, take advantage of price adjustments and improve their shopping experiences.”

It’s not known yet whether Rakuten plans to gain insight into what consumers are purchasing through its investment in Slice, but most analysts reckon that’s the motivation beyond the potential of the company as an investment.

Earlier this month Rakuten Marketing confirmed another purchase: it is buying Seattle technology company PopShops, and with it a platform that enables advertisers and publishers to make sure product information is always up to date, boosting the chances of a sale.

The PopShops platform provides online advertisers and publishers with a data analytics engine for intelligent product feeds. It currently enables more than 4,000 advertisers and 25,000 publishers, from coupon sites to loyalty programmes and blogs, to access the most up-to-date product information on millions of products from a single source.

Rakuten Marketing says the acquisition complements its digital marketing services, which include affiliate marketing, retargeting and search marketing.


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