Walmart to acquire Israeli-founded AR startup Memomi




US retail giant Walmart is set to acquire an augmented reality (AR) startup founded by Israeli entrepreneurs to power its optical care operations nationwide, the company disclosed on Wednesday.

Walmart said it finalized an agreement to buy Memomi, founded in 2014 by Ofer Saban and Salvador Nissi Vilcovsky, for an undisclosed sum.

Memomi developed an AR platform that allows customers to “try on” products and garments virtually and receive personalized recommendations based on style and preferences. The company also developed the Memory Mirror, a smart “magic” full-size mirror where shoppers can cycle through a range of options digitally while recording and reviewing their try-on sessions. These mirrors were installed in some three dozen Neiman Marcus stores in the US in 2019.

The company has worked with other retailers such as Sephora, L’Oreal, and Lancome, as well as luxury brands like Yves Saint Laurent, Dior, and La Mer.

Memomi has also worked with Walmart since 2019, enabling digital eyecare measurements for customers in more than 2,800 Walmart Vision Centers and 550 Sam’s Clubs (a Walmart subsidiary) and on SamsClub.com, Walmart said in the announcement Wednesday.

The acquisition, said Walmart, “is the next step in Walmart’s journey of offering personalized, affordable access to optical care.”

“Customers are looking for access to care digitally, in their homes, and purchasing eyeglasses is no different,” said David Reitnauer, VP of Specialty Services at Walmart Health & Wellness. “This acquisition supports our Health & Wellness mission to provide accessible care to the communities we serve.”

The acquisition is set to be finalized in the coming weeks, after which Memomi employees will join Walmart Global Tech, the technology and business services organization within Walmart staffed by software engineers, data scientists, cybersecurity experts, and enterprise service professionals.

Memomi has been headquartered in Palo Alto, California with offices in Paris and Tokyo and an R&D center in Rehovot headed by Saban, who serves as CTO (chief technology officer). Saban previously served as CTO of wireless network solutions company MobileAccess, bought by American tech company Corning for $150 million in 2011.

According to Calcalist, Memomi employs 10 people in Israel.

Cheryl Ainoa, senior VP of New Businesses & Emerging Tech at Walmart Global Tech said the organization was “excited to welcome the Memomi team to Walmart and add their capabilities to our leading virtual reality technology that is transforming the retail experience for our customers and members.”

Vilcovsky, who serves as Memomi CEO, said the company was looking forward to joining Walmart and “offering our innovations and user experiences to such a large scale both in-store and online.”

The acquisition of Memomi will be Walmart’s third purchase of an Israeli-founded company.

The retail company, with reported annual revenue of $523.964 billion in 2020, bought Israeli virtual fitting room platform developer Zeekit last year, rolling out the tech on the Walmart app and Walmart.com in March.

In 2019, Walmart acquired Israel-based Aspectiva, a startup that uses artificial intelligence and natural language processing technologies to analyze consumer opinions from the web with the goal of creating a better shopping experience.

Aspectiva joined Walmart’s Store N° 8, an incubation arm launched by the retailer in 2017 to tap into new ideas in the field of commerce.

Walmart has also made a number of investments in Israeli companies and organizations. In 2018, the retail company made a strategic investment in Team8, an Israeli think tank and tech incubator; it has also launched a joint venture with Eko, an interactive media and technology company with offices in Tel Aviv and New York; and joined The Bridge, a technology accelerator connecting global companies with the technology startup community in Israel.


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