Walmart Labs, the technology innovation hub for the world's largest retailer, announced that it made its first Silicon Alley acquisition with the purchase of Stylr.
Born in New York from two Stanford alumni and funded by New York-based incubator Dreamit Ventures, Stylr is a location-based mobile app that allows shoppers to find clothes in nearby stores. The deal furthers Walmart Labs' mobile push and marks its 13th acquisition in the past three years.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
In a blog post announcing the acquisition, Gibu Thomas, SVP of mobile and digital at Walmart, said the Labs team was impressed by how quickly Stylr founders Eytan Daniyalzade and Berk Atikoglu were able to develop and grow the app.
Thomas stressed the focus Walmart Labs has placed on mobile app development, given the estimation that 80 percent of Walmart customers under the age of 35 own a smartphone, and half have used their device in-store to assist with their shopping.
Thomas wrote in the blog:
We are excited about the opportunity to serve these customers with indispensable digital tools that bring the convenience of online shopping into our physical stores and integrate our online and offline experiences to enable our customers to shop anytime, anywhere.
What's key that statement is the mention of integration and the need to bridge offline and online shopping experiences. Walmart joins the bevy of other retailers that are all on that mission and likely fighting the same enemy — Amazon.
With a rumored smartphone announcement coming Wednesday, Amazon is upping the ante on technology's ability to reach shoppers and make them spend money. An Amazon smartphone would give the gargantuan online retailer a direct link to consumers, prompting the rest of the retail pack (Walmart in particular) to beef up their own mobile muscle.
Walmart is obviously aware of the challenge. It's been buying a range of companies with diverse technologies and integrating them into Labs' products. Last month it acquired Adchemy, a product search and e-commerce firm. Before that there was Yumprint, a recipe and meal-planning service, and before that it bought Torbit, makers of Web acceleration technology. They joined Small Society, Set Direction, Grabble and OneRiot, companies focused on building the retailer's mobile app strategy, as well as Inkiru, OneOps and Tasty Labs.
The acquisitions brought Walmart Labs' employee count to more than 2,000, and it will gain two more from Stylr. Both Daniyalzade and Atikoglu will join Walmart Labs in San Bruno, California.