Lexalytics Looking Strong as Text Analytics Heats Up for Big Companies, Mobile

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Semantria, which does cloud-based text analysis. The new startup is a joint venture between Lexalytics, Postindustria (in Los Angeles), and DemandGen (Montreal).

In the past few months, Lexalytics has been refining its sentiment engine. Catlin says that phrases like “it wasn’t the best movie ever” and “spectacularly bad” posed special challenges in terms of classifying their meaning. The company’s software has also gotten good at telling whether a statement is contextual rather than polar—the greeting “good morning” is the former, for example.

Of course, this is a very deep and long-standing problem that Lexalytics and others are tackling—getting a computer to quantify meaning and sentiment from phrases of text. Once the technology gets accurate enough—kind of like speech recognition over the years—we might expect to see some really big applications. One of them could be in mobile tech. Cell phone manufacturers are interested in things like summarization of e-mail, Catlin says, to make better use of small screens. You might imagine that software running on a phone (or in the cloud) could identify action items from an e-mail, and display those instead of the whole message.

As for Lexalytics, I wondered if getting acquired by a bigger player (perhaps one of its customers) might be in the works. Catlin says he certainly receives acquisition offers, but most of them aren’t serious. There’s “nothing active in that right now,” he says. On the other hand, he says, “I think the space will consolidate. Salesforce, Oracle, and Microsoft are buying things left and right.”

And he left the door open a little more. “We’re a little company,” he says, “and the eventual goal is find a home for the company in the long run.”

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and Editor of Xconomy Boston. E-mail him at gthuang [at] xconomy.com. Follow @gthuang

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