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April 30, 2016

Vision Critical purchases software from UMass faculty member

Courtesy of UMass.edu

A Vancouver-based software company, Vision Critical, has completed its purchase of a text analysis program DiscoverText from University of Massachusetts faculty member Dr. Stuart Shulman, according to a University press release.

The deal was announced on Jan. 22 in conjunction with the Texifter, LLC, for which Shulman serves as the founder and CEO.

DiscoverText, a cloud-based analytical service that can sift through “huge amounts” of text in order to simplify the process of locating and classifying portions of information, was acquired for an undisclosed amount.

The deal will allow Vision Critical to “automate the organization and classification of hundreds of thousands of text records more efficiently and accurately,” the company release said.

Shulman will join the company as vice president of text analytics as part of the deal. Texifter’s Mark Hoy, the company’s chief technology officer, will also join VC as the senior architect of text analytics.

The sale comes after nearly 12 years in development. Shulman first became interested in analyzing massive amounts of text data as professor of political science at Providence College.

After obtaining a $30,000 grant to focus on e-rulemaking, Shulman built strong ties in the computer science community as his interest in the issue grew.

In 2008, Shulman joined the UMass faculty and was granted computer lab space to continue researching text analytics and build his program.

After four years, Shulman and his team amassed over $4 million dollars in National Science Foundation grants.

“If you tell the government you’re doing research on data, most of the time, they’ll give it to you,” Shulman said in the University press release.

Vision Critical builds online platforms that expedite the process of communication between customers, employees and citizens. According to the company’s website, by facilitating the continued communication between the different entities involved with a business group, the Vancouver-based company offers analytics software for everything from market research to civic engagement.

Shulman believes that the DiscoverText software will benefit Vision Critical because of the volume of text-based information that the company handles. According to the VC web page, the company “deploys over 2.5 million survey invitations per month across 26 languages,” generating large volumes of data for over 5,000 users.

“That generates a lot of free text,” Shulman says. “Our software is very well suited for that kind of work.”

According to the University release, the sale of DiscoverText stands to signify the years of hard work paying off and also as an acknowledgement of all those who made the software a successful enterprise.

On moving to the 600 employee firm, Shulman called it a “brave new world,” noting his excitement to his brainchild reach its full potential.

Jeffrey Okerman can be reached at jokerman@student.umass.edu.

 

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