I chatted with Brooke Aker, the new CEO of Expert System’s US subsidiary, for quite a while last week. Unfortunately, we had some cell phone problems, and email followup hasn’t gone well, so I’m hazy on a few details. But here are some highlights, as best I understood them.
- Expert System now has 145 employees.
- 2 of the employees are in the US (plus at least one more full-time equivalent on a contract basis). Brooke believes the US operation will eventually be the biggest part of the company.
- Expert System has sold its market intelligence SaaS offering to two global auto manufacturers. Competitors were Nielsen BuzzMetrics, somebody whose name sounded like “flexilytics” (I presume that would be Lexalytics Edit: But see Lexalytics CEO Jeff Catlin’s comment below), and somebody whose named sounded like “Truecast” (I haven’t yet guessed who that is).
- If I understood correctly, Expert System acquired that product by picking up Brooke’s tiny company Acuity Software. Acuity was/is a user of Expert System’s technology, having replaced Coveo’s with it so as to get better semantics.
- Brooke is optimistic about Expert System’s prospects in the intelligence market. New semantic networks in Arabic and English (joining one Expert System already had in Italian) are a big part of the reason. Brooke says the intelligence community is now actively interested in technology that’s been validated by the commercial market, on the theory it’s apt to be more complete than research/government-only products. Expert System is also working on a semantic network in another undisclosed Middle Eastern language; Brooke stoically refrained from confirming the blindingly obvious guess that this would be Farsi.
- Expert System’s third effort in the US market, coming soon, will be a semantic ad platform.
Once again, however, I made it through an Expert System briefing without gaining a real understanding of its technology. I gather they’re proud of their in-memory data structure for their semantic network, but I haven’t a clue (beyond the obvious guesses) as to what that data structure is. Similarly, Brooke said that a distinguishing feature of Expert Systems semantic network is that words have lots of attributes, which are the same thing as categories, and supplied a list of the 11 top-level categories: Objects, animals, plants, people, concepts, places, time, natural phenomena, state, quantity, group. But it’s easy to come up with a lot of things that don’t seem to fit that list very well (especially events, such as numerous different word-senses of “strike”), so absent further elucidation I didn’t find that particularly instructive either.