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August 26, 2021 | Tom Ballard

Knoxville’s Reviewbox acquired by Talkwalker

By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

Talkwalker, a leading consumer intelligence company headquartered in Luxembourg but with offices around the world, has acquired Knoxville-based Reviewbox, the all-in-one review management platform.

Founded in 2016 by James Horey, a former Researcher at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Reviewbox will enable Talkwalker to rapidly expand its product review capability. The acquirer will integrate Reviewbox’s eCommerce data – product reviews, product catalogs, and pricing –  into its consumer intelligence platform, providing additional customer insights for its clients. This will complement Talkwalker’s extensive social, consumer, and customer data gathering and analytics capabilities.

In an interview with us earlier in the week, Horey said conversations with Talkwalker began months ago as an exploration of partnership possibilities. “There was an overlap in our customers,” he said, adding, “We knew them (Talkwalker), and it made sense to discuss partnering.”

Those initial conversations became more serious in early July and led to this week’s announcement. Talkwalker has about 500 employees, while Reviewbox has 15. Over the long-term, the two separate companies with complementary products will be integrated into a unified brand.

“This announcement confirms our commitment to remaining the number one consumer intelligence platform,” said Tod Nielsen, Talkwalker’s new global Chief Executive Officer. “Reviews give you an understanding of just what your customers think of your products, whether that’s good or bad. This integration gives you a real-time view of this data, enabling you to react, and also helping you shape your products in the future. This continues the growth of our customer intelligence capabilities, to offer brands further insights into all aspects of the customer buying journey. Enabling them to make faster, more intelligent business decisions.”

While Reviewbox is obviously considerably smaller, Horey emphasized two important points as they relate to the Knoxville region. “I plan on being with the team for the foreseeable future, and we intend to grow our presence in Knoxville,” he said, adding that Talkwalker has plans for an initial public offering (IPO), and “I want to be part of that journey.”

Reviewbox’s customer base includes brands such as Delta, Avery, Whirlpool, and Netgear. All existing Reviewbox staff will join the Talkwalker team, a point that Horey said was very important to him as he evaluated the offer.

“Is this a company that each of our employees would want to work for?” The answer to the all-important cultural fit question was obviously yes. “Talkwalker and Reviewbox are a perfect fit,” he says.

Horey noted an irony about his life that he said comes in roughly five-year increments. After four years as an undergrad at Hendrix College, he spent six years pursuing his doctorate at the University of New Mexico. Horey’s ORNL tenure was about five years followed by five years building-up Reviewbox.

“Five years is a long time to work on a start-up,” he says.

Looking back to the launch of the venture, Horey says he could not have predicted that an acquisition would be the outcome when he launched Reviewbox and participated just a few months later in the 2016 edition of the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center’s “The Works” accelerator.

He admits that he might do some things a little different in retrospect, starting with the end goal. “Our growth strategy conversations should have started earlier,” Horey acknowledges. That fact and other knowledge he’s gained are things Horey hopes to offer as he gets reengaged with local entrepreneurial community.

“Hopefully, I’ll be able to breathe and connect back with the entrepreneurial community,” he says. “I’m excited for where Knoxville is going. Knoxville will only get better,” citing the new “Techstars Industries of the Future Accelerator” as one example.

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