Google reportedly making move to buy data science community Kaggle

8 Mar 2017

Google. Image: Ken Wolter/Shutterstock

Google is reportedly seeking to acquire Kaggle, a data science community that runs competitions to help experts solve commercial problems.

Coding competitions are clever ways to harness the online developer ecosystem, providing companies with the ideal crowdsourcing platform to get jobs done.

Kaggle is one such operator in this field, with a reported half a million data scientists registered to compete against each other on given projects.

Appirio is another example, with 800,000 members covering the computer science field in a more general sense. Elsewhere, there’s DrivenData and HackerRank but, given Kaggle’s niche area of data science (in which it operates pretty exclusively), a real value emerges.

The idea is simple: a company wants a relatively small job done, for which it doesn’t want to hire someone full-time. Kaggle has a swathe of willing freelancers, ready for a challenge. A task is created, monetary prizes are explained, and the community goes for it.

The movement is so popular that Google is reportedly keen on acquiring Kaggle, which would add an interesting strand to its broad employment structure.

According to TechCrunch, Google’s interest in the operation will see it continue in its current guise, should an acquisition come to pass. This is despite neither company commenting on any deal.

“With Kaggle, Google is buying one of the largest and most active communities for data scientists  – and with that, it will get increased mindshare in this community, too,” reads the report.

Another reason Google is interested in Kaggle, perhaps, is its ongoing relationship with the platform. Earlier this month, Google and Kaggle partnered on a $100,000 machine learning competition aimed at classifying YouTube videos.

This competition had some deep integrations with the Google Cloud Platform, showing how major tech operations can harness the open source nature of, essentially, pools of freelancers grouped together for competitive work.

One of the bigger projects run on Kaggle in recent months was a $1m competition to improve lung cancer detection.

Kaggle has raised $12.5m in investment from the likes of Index Ventures, Google chief economist Hal Varian and Russian investor Yuri Milner.

Google. Image: Ken Wolter/Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic