Etsy is Opening a Machine Learning Centre in Toronto

Etsy is the source for everything from fast-food themed clothing to Spice Girls polaroid cameras. So it’s natural they know where to look for the best of the best—and that happens to be Toronto. Don’t get your hopes up though. It doesn’t have to do with either of those things.

Etsy has announced they will be opening a machine learning centre of excellence in Toronto. The idea is for the e-commerce site to take advantage of Toronto’s deep pool of AI talent and vast ecosystem to advance their skills in the ever-growing field.

After all, tech talent is flocking to the city from around the world, though it could be because it’s cheaper to hire skilled workers here than other hubs.

According to reps, it was a “natural choice” to choose Toronto. Research institutes like Vector support that idea, and the rich tapestry of talent coming from universities here and in Waterloo confirm the notion as well.

“Etsy is dedicated to creating opportunities for creative entrepreneurs across Canada, and the addition of the Machine Learning Center of Excellence will deepen Etsy’s roots in Toronto’s robust tech community,” said Etsy CTO Mike Fisher. “We are excited to add more world-class talent from Canada to Etsy’s engineering team so that we can continue to make our marketplace the best destination for buying and selling unique and special goods.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with Etsy executives in their home base of New York City to discuss the country’s growing e-commerce environment. Picture below is Trudeau chatting with Etsy’s chairman of the board Fred Wilson.

Trudeau Etsy

Canada is one of Etsy’s biggest international markets. There are over two million items on the Etsy marketplace listed by Canadians. The e-commerce site uses Machine learning to find what customers want and drive deep personalization.

“Because of the uniqueness, we have to do a lot more work to figure out what you’re looking for,” Etsy’s senior vice president for infrastructure and operations John Allspaw told the WSJ. “Building personalization and recommendations is a much harder problem because we have to look for deeper signals.”

This is the third machine learning centre of excellence Etsy has opened. The others are located in San Francisco and Brooklyn.