Artificial Intelligence is going through a renaissance, and we’re thrilled to cover the space. Here, Luca and I talk about the fusion of semantic and statistical methods in Machine Learning to achieve deeper intelligence with specific vertical workflows, vocabulary, and nuances. Very interesting conversation!
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start with introducing our audience to yourself as well as Expert System.
Luca Scagliarini: I’m currently the CEO of Expert System. Before joining Expert System, I worked for many years in Europe and in the United States in big companies and startups. I worked for HP for a few years then I joined a startup in Silicon Valley that was subsequently acquired. I moved back to Europe a few years ago to find some European companies that were ready to expand in the US. I started to work for Expert System, which had been around for a while and was operating mainly in Europe until a few years ago.
The company is developing software that understand languages in a way that is very similar to what people do when they read. Instead of just looking at text as a sequence of characters, we understand the meaning of words in context and how words are connected to each other so that you have a deeper automatic understanding of text. Text is one of the unstructured contents. We’re listed in Italy. We have presence in different geographies. In US, we have offices in Palo Alto, Washington DC, and in Chicago.
Sramana Mitra: You’re saying it’s a public company. What is the revenue level?
Luca Scagliarini: We’re listed in the small cap stock exchange. Last year, the company ran the revenue level of €13 million, which is around $15 million. We’re profitable. In the last few months, we have acquired a couple of companies. The revenue rate is more in the range of $29 million. The combined entities, Expert and Temis, generated value of production of €25 million in 2014. I cannot give you the exact numbers after the acquisition because the acquisition is closing in a few weeks. It was announced at the end of June.
Sramana Mitra: The headquarters is in Italy?
Luca Scagliarini: Yes. In Europe, we have presence in Italy and UK. After the acquisition, we have presence in France, Germany, and Spain.
Sramana Mitra: This is very intriguing actually. I’m very interested in what’s happening in terms of tech startups in different parts of the world. Give me a little bit of context about how this company came about to become a publicly traded company in Italy. Where are you in Italy and what is the genesis of the company?
Luca Scagliarini: We started by providing proofing tools for Microsoft. We are the first proofing tool for several European languages. At the end of the 90s, based on this skill that we have developed, we thought that approaching unstructured content through statistics was going to bring us off to a certain point. When you actually analyze and when you want to have a deep understanding, which is becoming more and more important, we cannot avoid by trying to replicate what people do when they read. We started working with companies in industries like oil and gas, and banks where there are very complicated knowledge management issues. As we augmented the level of understanding, we provided all the stack that goes from semantic search to automatic categorization and so forth. The first customers were bigger customers.