Alteryx acquires machine learning startup Feature Labs

Alteryx, a publicly traded analytics company, announced this morning that it has acquired Feature Labs, a machine learning startup that launched out of MIT in 2018. The company did not reveal the terms of the deal.

Co-founder and CEO Max Kanter told TechCrunch at the time of the launch the company had been based on research at MIT that looked at how to automate the creation of machine learning algorithms. “Feature Labs is unique because we automate feature engineering, which is the process of using domain knowledge to extract new variables from raw data that make machine learning algorithms work,” Kantor told TechCrunch in 2018.

It is precisely this capability that appealed to Alteryx. “Feature Labs’ vision to help both data scientists and business analysts easily gain insight and understand the factors driving their business matches the Alteryx DNA,” Alteryx co-founder and CEO Dean Stoecker said in a statement. It’s worth noting that the company acquired another machine learning startup, Yhat, in 2017 and launched a new feature, Alteryx Promote, based on that technology later that year.

As for Feature Labs, writing in a blog post announcing the deal, Kantor and chief data scientist Alan Jacobson saw a partner that could help it grow faster while fitting the long-term goals for the company. Kantor and Jacobson also sought to reassure its users that the mission will continue. “We plan to use this [acquisition] to expand our AI and ML efforts in both the Open Source data science community, as well as for line of business analysts that desire code-free tools that can guide them through the complex process to successfully implement AI and ML techniques with their domain knowledge,” they wrote in the post.

Feature Labs offers open-source libraries for data scientists that have been downloaded more than 350,000 times, according to the company. The company was founded in 2018 in Cambridge, Mass. and has raised $3 million, according to Crunchbase data. It will remain in Cambridge and form a new Alteryx engineering hub in the city.

Alteryx went public in 2017 after raising more than $160 million from VC firms like Iconiq Partners, Insight Venture Partners and Sapphire Ventures. This represents its fifth acquisition and second this year.

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