Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Next Angry Birds?

The mobile game sensation Angry Birds has spawned a whole industry of plushies, games, shirts, costumes, and even these flip flops! What is the next game to capture the public imagination? Our toy merchant, was pitched by a vendor on Fruit Ninjas. Like Angry Birds, Fruit Ninjas is a fun and whimsical game and it is ranked as the #4 game on the Apple AppStore right now. According to social media trends, it has a quite a bit further to go until it’s a real pop-culture phenomena like Angry Birds. For now Angry Birds still rule the roost.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Hottest Holiday Toys at Walmart

What are the must-have toys that everyone is talking about this season? To figure out what to add to our shopping lists, we tracked the social media chatter about Walmart's Hot Holiday Toys.

Discussions about the LeapPad, the educational tablet from LeapFrog, and the competing Innotab from VTech continue to surge and from the looks of it are selling out fast. There must be alot of parents who are afraid to hand over their iPads to their 3 year-olds!

Lalaloopsy, the magical rag dolls, have been popular in social discussions the entire holiday season but have breaking out this last week.

Have you seen the new Let's Rock Elmo? He sings, he dances, he wirelessly interacts with his musical instruments. In short, Elmo rocks! It's no wonder that Elmo social media buzz has been climbing fast.

Here's how the other Hot Holiday Toys stack up on our Social Media Index.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Social Media Trend Alert: Hot Holiday Toys

Over the Thanksgiving holidays, shoppers lined up at stores like Toys "R" Us to snag some of the hottest toys of the season. With the black friday shopping frenzy behind us, we looked into the social media buzz behind some of the most popular toys.

After looking at this holiday season's most desired toys, it's clear that there is a rising trend in remote-controlled toys. These toys, such as Air Swimmers, Air Hogs, and Syma Helicopters are climbing to the top of many children's (and adults') holiday wish lists.

According to the trends over the past 90 days, Syma Helicopters are at the top of the list with the strongest Social Media Index. Evident in the graph below, remote-controlled toys, especially Air Swimmers, seem to be trending upwards and could turn out to be among the most popular holiday gifts this year.

In case you are wondering, Air Swimmers (released July 2011) are remote controlled, helium filled clown fish and sharks that swim through the air in a very realistic swimming motion.

The chart below provides a breakdown of the social media buzz for some of the top trending toys this season. Syma Helicopters have the strongest share of the social media buzz, followed by LeapPad and Air Swimmers.

Black Friday Leaderboard: Who Won?

@WalmartLabs followed the top stories on social media during Black Friday, but where did the shoppers actually go? To answer this question, we turned to the Foursquare Check-ins.

Black Friday Door Buster Category

This year, several retailers started Black Friday earlier than ever. Walmart and Toys “R” Us started on 10pm Thursday night. While Target, Best Buy, Kohl’s and Macy’s opened doors for Black Friday shoppers at midnight on Thursday night. During the late night Door Buster period, we saw that Walmart got the highest share of Foursquare checkins (29%) with Target in second place (23%). Some retailers like Toys R Us and Macy’s had good showings as they encouraged shoppers to check-in on Foursqure by offering discounts and coupons.

Winner: Walmart

Black Friday Traffic Category

By the end of the day on Friday, Walmart (25%) and Target (20%) kept their leads in Foursquare check-ins.

Winner: Walmart

Black Friday Buzz Category

Black Friday has become pop-culture phenomena. Many opted to experience the intensity first hand by camping out outside to be the first in line or wading into the crowd to be the first to nab a special deal. Many more chose to observe from the sidelines and pass around Black Friday stories and observations. Which retailer was talked about the most during Black Friday?

Winner: Walmart

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Shopycat: How To Find the Perfect Gift This Holiday Season

The holiday season is the season of gift giving. A thoughtful and welcome gift is a source of joy both to the giver and to the recipient. Unfortunately, it is also a very stressful -- and often unsuccessful -- process to find the perfect gift for all the people in our lives.

The reason is simple: the way we find gifts today is simply not very efficient. We amble through stores and malls until a product we think might be a good gift for a friend, a family member, or a coworker catches our eye. This is a time-consuming, hit or miss process, more often than not resulting in gifts that match our tastes and interests rather than those of our recipients. The ubiquity of gift receipts and the number of store returns right after the holidays are testimony to this disappointing state of affairs.

Today at @WalmartLabs, we’re launching Shopycat, a Facebook app that makes gift- giving less stressful and more fun. There are two steps to finding the perfect gift. The first step is knowing the tastes and interests of the recipient. Shopycat infers the interests of each of your friends by analyzing their Facebook activity through likes, shares and posts using our Social Genome technology. For example, Shopycat notices that my friend Joe keeps posting about the Red Sox, and infers that he is a Red Sox-- and therefore, a baseball -- fan. Shopycat analyzes likes and shares to infer tastes as varied as Harry Potter, running, Angry Birds, sushi, yoga, and parenting to recommend gifts.

The second step is to search across a large universe of products to find the one “wow” gift that doesn’t break the bank. Shopycat matches users’ interests to a giant catalog that includes products from, Walmart and sites including Barnes and Noble, RedEnvelope, ThinkGeek, and Hot Topic.  For users who are not very active on Facebook, Shopycat will recommend appropriate gift cards from Walmart, iTunes, Starbucks, and Zynga. And for last minute shoppers, the app also shows the location of the nearest Walmart store to pick up your gifts.

Shopycat’s gift recommendations for my friends include:

Human beings are inherently social and gift giving is one of the most social activities we engage in. The “perfect gift” is a complex and subjective notion and depends as much on the giver as it does on the recipient. Shopycat shows a diverse array of gift recommendations for each friend; not all of these will be the perfect gift, but our hope is that for each friend, there is one recommendation that makes you go “wow.”

We will measure our success by the number of smiles Shopycat brings this holiday season.  Yet this is only the first step of a long journey as we reinvent gift-giving for the way we live now. Please take Shopycat for a spin and send us your feedback to help us improve. After all, there are birthdays, graduations and anniversaries just around the corner.
Here's a short video we made that shows off Shopycat at work.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Welcome Grabble!

The mobile team here at Walmart has been hard at work figuring out how mobile technology can be used to change the way people shop.  We've hit some key milestones recently with the launch of our new iPad app and the introduction of Smart Shopping Lists for the iphone which we announced earlier this week. Yet, we are just getting started.  Mobile isn't just an extension of e-commerce to mobile devices, but rather a guide that will impact all of a customer's purchases, from groceries to electronics and everything in between.

A few months back we met the Grabble team -- a small team that was started in the proverbial garage in Woolongong Australia.  The Grabble founders had a vision that was very similar to ours in terms of how shopping could be transformed using mobile devices.  After many long conversations and paired programming over multiple time zones, we are thrilled that the Grabble team is now a part of our mobile efforts.  They will be moving to our offices in San Bruno, California, and we look forward to working together to build products that seamlessly integrate the shopping experience between brick-and-mortar stores and e-commerce for millions of customers around the globe.

We are excited to have Stuart and Anthony aboard.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

SocialSense Smackdown: Battlefield 3 vs. Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3

@WalmartLabs is working on ways to help Walmart interpret social media to predict trends and learn more about what our customers want. We are mining social media sources like Twitter and Facebook, blogs, search activity, as well as Walmart transaction data to find useful insights. We'll be posting some of our insights here on the @WalmartLabs blog. Please let us know your thoughts.

Today we saw this interesting article in WSJ about the holiday sales war between the blockbuster video game franchises: Activision Blizzard’s Call of Duty and Electronic Art’s Battlefield. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 hit stores yesterday while Battlefield 3 went on sale October 27th.

We took a look at how these two games are doing head-to-head in social media buzz. Battlefield 3 saw a sharp temporary spike in the SocialSense Index the week of launch. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 has surged this week and appears to be overtaking Battlefield 3. However, Call of Duty 3 doesn’t appear to have the buzz strength that Call of Duty 2 had the same time last year. Will this translate into softer sales than last year? We’ll revisit this post in the coming weeks to see how it plays out.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

@WalmartLabs += OneRiot; // Welcome aboard, Team OneRiot!

A few weeks ago, a small team from @WalmartLabs visited the offices of OneRiot in beautiful Boulder, Colorado. OneRiot has developed some pretty nifty technology that analyzes social media signals from popular networks like Twitter and Facebook to deliver ads that are relevant to consumers’ interests. As our teams debated the finer points of Big Data, Fast Data, and machine learning technologies, it became clear to us that we could find no better colleagues than the guys at OneRiot.

As a part of Walmart, we're continuing to work with the intensity of a technology startup. Today I’m pumped to share the news that, within 30 days of that first meeting, we have closed a transaction to acquire the key assets of OneRiot. The technology team at OneRiot will move to Silicon Valley and become part of @WalmartLabs in September.

As I have written before, here at @WalmartLabs we’re doing some amazingly interesting and impactful work at the intersection of social, mobile, and retail. The technology at the core of what we do is the Social Genome, which enables us to connect millions of consumers with the best products based on their interests at any given moment. The OneRiot technology will enrich the Social Genome, and the OneRiot team adds to the already deep expertise we have around social data analysis.

It gives me great pleasure to welcome Tobias Peggs and the OneRiot team to @WalmartLabs!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Goodbye, Kosmix. Hello, @WalmartLabs

Two weeks ago, I announced the exciting news that Kosmix had agreed to be acquired by Walmart, the world’s largest retailer. At that point, the deal was signed but subject to customary closing conditions. Today, I’m delighted to announce that the closing conditions have been fulfilled and that the deal is officially closed.

Today is the last day in the life of Kosmix as an independent company. It is a day to look back with pride at our accomplishments. I’m proud of our pioneering development of breakthrough semantic analysis technology, and of applying it to real-time social media streams to create the Social Genome. I’m proud that we built RightHealth into one of the top three health and medical information sites by global reach. I’m extremely proud that we touched so many people each and every day: in March, our properties RightHealth, Tweetbeat, and together served over 17.5 million unique visitors worldwide, who spent over 5.5 billion seconds on our services. But most of all, I’m proud of being part of the Kosmix team, and having the privilege of working with a team of extremely talented and passionate individuals who, over the course of the past several years, went from coworkers to family.

Today also is the first day in the life of @WalmartLabs. As I wrote in my prior post, our mission is to invent the next generation of ecommerce: integrated experiences that leverage the store, the web, and mobile, with social identity being the glue. We are at an inflection point in the development of retailing. Social media and the mobile phone will have as profound an effect on the trajectory of retail in the early years of the 21st century as did the development of highways in the early part of the 20th century. @WalmartLabs, which combines Walmart’s scale with Kosmix’s social genome platform, is in a unique position to invent and build this future.

I’m also delighted that the entire Kosmix crew, without exception, will be part of this exciting new journey. If you are interested in joining a talented and passionate team working at the crossroads of social media, mobile, and commerce, give us a holler. @WalmartLabs is hiring!

P.S. To stay tuned, follow @WalmartLabs on Twitter.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Retail + Social + Mobile = @WalmartLabs

Eric Schmidt famously observed that every two days now, we create as much data as we did from the dawn of civilization until 2003. A lot of the new data is not locked away in enterprise databases, but is freely available to the world in the form of social media: status updates, tweets, blogs, and videos.
At Kosmix, we’ve been building a platform, called the Social Genome, to organize this data deluge by adding a layer of semantic understanding. Conversations in social media revolve around “social elements” such as people, places, topics, products, and events. For example, when I tweet “Loved Angelina Jolie in Salt,” the tweet connects me (a user) to Angelia Jolie (an actress) and SALT (a movie). By analyzing the huge volume of data produced every day on social media, the Social Genome builds rich profiles of users, topics, products, places, and events.
The Social Genome platform powers the sites Kosmix operates today: TweetBeat, a real-time social media filter for live events;, a site to discover content by topic; and RightHealth, one of the top three health and medical information sites by global reach.  In March, these properties together served over 17.5 million unique visitors worldwide, who spent over 5.5 billion seconds on our services.
Quite a few of us at Kosmix have backgrounds in ecommerce, having worked at companies such as and eBay. As we worked on the Social Genome platform, it became apparent to us that this platform could transform ecommerce by providing an unprecedented level of understanding about customers and products, going well beyond purchase data. The Social Genome enables us to take search, personalization and recommendations to the next level.
That’s why we were so excited when Walmart invited us to share with them our vision for the future of retailing. Walmart is the world’s largest retailer, with 10.5 billion customer visits every year to their stores and 1.5 billion online – 1 in 10 customers around the world shop Walmart online, and that proportion is growing. More and more visitors to the retail stores are armed with powerful mobile phones, which they use both to discover products and to connect with their friends and with the world. It was very soon apparent that the Walmart leadership shared our vision and our enthusiasm. And so @WalmartLabs was born (official announcement here).
We are at an inflection point in the development of ecommerce. The first generation of ecommerce was about bringing the store to the web. The next generation will be about building integrated experiences that leverage the store, the web, and mobile, with social identity being the glue that binds the experience. Walmart’s enormous global reach and incredible scale of operations -- from the United States and Europe to growing markets like China and India -- is unprecedented. @WalmartLabs, which combines Walmart’s scale with Kosmix’s social genome platform, is in a unique position to invent and build this future.
It is every technologist’s dream that the products they build will impact billions and will continue on to the next generation. The social commerce opportunity is huge, and today is day zero. We have liftoff!