Hunch (website)

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IndustryRecommender system
FounderCaterina Fake and Chris Dixon
FateAcquired by eBay for US$80 million

Hunch was a company founded in 2007 that developed a collective intelligence recommender system that used decision trees to make decisions based on users' interest.[1][2][3] Hunch developed a public-facing website that was launched publicly in June 2009. In November 2011, Hunch announced it was to be acquired by eBay for $80mn.[4][5] Through its acquisition of Hunch, eBay sought to obtain Hunch's recommendation engine technology. The company hoped to improve their e-commerce website's ability to guide consumers to products they are likely to purchase.[1]

While the technology continues to be used in eBay's e-commerce platform, the public facing website for Hunch was shuttered in March 2014.[6] Hunch was headquartered in New York City.[7]


Hunch was co-founded by Flickr co-founder Caterina Fake[8] and Chris Dixon with an 11-person team of MIT graduates.[9] Hunch started a private preview period in December 2008, but opened the preview to the public in March 2009 as an invitation-only private beta. Users had to request an invitation at, which took a few days to receive.[10] In December 2009, Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales joined as board member and advisor.[11]

By February 2010, the website's traffic had grown to 1.2 million unique visitors.[12] In January 2011, Hunch was redesigned from decision tree system and topic specific questions to tagging and product referral.[13]

In November 2011, it was announced that Hunch had been officially acquired by eBay Inc. for 80 million dollars.[4] eBay hoped integrate Hunch's recommendation engine technology in order to improve the predictive ability of their own e-commerce platform to guide consumers to items they are likely to purchase. Specifically, eBay wanted the Hunch technology to improve the ability of their search engine to suggest non-obvious purchase suggestions. In an interview, Hunch co-founder Chris Dixon said that the Hunch technology may suggest to an avid coin-collector to purchase a microscope for use in examining coins, a suggestion he said traditional machine learning algorithms could not achieve.[1]

After its acquisition by eBay, co-founder Chris Dixon remained as head of the operating business within eBay. To combine data science efforts across the company, eBay merged under the leadership of Dixon the approximately 20 employees at Hunch with the approximately 50 employees on the existing eBay data science team.[4]

While the underlying recommendation engine technology remains in use at eBay, the public-facing website for the independent Hunch recommendation engine was closed in March 2014.


Hunch often published reports[14] revealing correlations between users which it found interesting, odd or amusing. The reports published were:

  • Gays in the military: opinions about “Don't Ask Don't Tell”
  • “Bitters” vs “Lovers”: What our Valentine’s Day outlook says about us
  • Pooches and people: what our best pals reveal about ourselves
  • Console Tribes: What Your Video Game System Says About You
  • Hunch users weigh in on global warming
  • And now for something lighter: Cookie Monster blows away #2 Oscar as a Hunch favorite
  • New York Times Bestsellers: A Hunch Topic Snapshot
  • Mac vs PC People: Personality Traits & Aesthetic/Media Choices
  • How Food Preferences Vary by Political Ideology
  • Profile of a Hunch iPhone owner
  • Does TV Make us Dumber-er?


  1. ^ a b c "eBay Buys Hunch To Improve Long-Tail Shopping Recommendations – TechCrunch". Retrieved 2018-06-24.
  2. ^ Rao, Leena. "Hunch Takes A Deep Data Dive On The Tastes And Interests Of eBay Users". TechCrunch. Retrieved 27 May 2013.
  3. ^ Woody Evans (2009). "Hunch: A Psychosocial Divinatory Machine for the Masses".
  4. ^ a b c Martin, Adam (2011-11-21). "eBay Buys Hunch for $80 Million". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2018-06-24.
  5. ^ "eBay Acquires Recommendation Engine". Retrieved 2018-06-24.
  6. ^ "Hunch launches today". VatorNews. June 15, 2009. Retrieved 2011-07-14.
  7. ^ "About". Retrieved 2008-04-12.
  8. ^ Ben Parr (March 28, 2009). "Hunch: Flickr Founder to Turn Indecision into Profits". Mashable. Retrieved 2009-04-12.
  9. ^ "The Hunch Team". Retrieved 2009-04-12.
  10. ^ Official Forum Clarification on Hunch's History: "wikipedia article about hunch could use some improvement!". Retrieved 2010-03-01.
  11. ^ Wales, Jimmy (December 7, 2009). "What's new for me: Hunch". Retrieved December 7, 2009.
  12. ^ "Hunch". Mashable. Retrieved 27 May 2013.
  13. ^ "Hunch Blog | Goodbye topic-specific questions, hello tags". Retrieved 2013-07-30.
  14. ^ "List of Hunch Reports". Archived from the original on 2013-10-30. Retrieved 2013-10-30.