Positronic Purchased by eBay, Ex-Microsoft Execs Moving to Silicon Valley

The Seattle search startup Positronic has been acquired by eBay for an undisclosed sum. The news was first reported on Mary Jo Foley’s Microsoft blog last week, and was later confirmed on eBay’s company blog. It’s an interesting and somewhat sad story, as it means the departure of prominent Seattle-area tech executives, as well as the loss of some potentially intriguing (if stealthy) Internet technology.

Positronic was founded in 2007 by a pair of former Microsoft search execs, vice president Christopher Payne and general manager Dane Glasgow. As far as I can tell, they never released a product, but had been working in the areas of data mining, machine learning, and predictive models, all applied to Web search. Now, after less than two years, Payne and Glasgow are headed back to the corporate machine—and going with them is any progress they’ve made in improving search.

According to eBay, the execs are relocating to headquarters in San Jose, CA, where Payne has assumed the new role of vice president of search, and Glasgow is vice president of engineering. The goal of the Positronic acquisition, eBay says, is “to help with efforts at leveraging machine learning to provide a more predictive and compelling customer experience.”

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