IBM Invests in Watson Ecosystem, Sinking Money Into WayBlazer, SellPoints

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- IBM (IBM) is continuing to use Watson not just as a sales point but as a way to change how business is done, announcing on Tuesday investments in two Watson-powered companies, WayBlazer and Sellpoints.

As part of its Watson Group, IBM was part of Series A $5 million funding for WayBlazer, which uses Watson's cognitive computing skills to change how consumers plan and personalize travel. Watson will be able to better curate the travel data and come up with customized responses for each WayBlazer user.

"This is yet another exciting milestone in our journey with Watson to transform the way travelers seek advice," said WayBlazer CEO Felix Laboy in a statement. "We're honored that IBM and our other investors are committed to helping us grow our catalog of offerings and customer base in an effort to further establish WayBlazer as the industry's most robust online travel advisor.

By contrast, Sellpoints, which raised $7.5 million in a Series C funding, is using Watson for a new app it introduced to help understand shoppers' habits better.

Natural Selection, as the app is known, allows people to type in a situation, such as that their second grader needs help with math, and the app returns products that are sorted by relevance.

"From our first involvement in the Watson Ecosystem last year, to this new investment milestone, there's a bright future ahead for us to redefine the online shopping experience," said Sellpoints CEO Brian O'Keefe said in a press release. "With the natural language and cognitive computing capabilities of Watson, we're able to deliver a more personalized, relevant and enjoyable experience, and drive a much deeper level of engagement with customers."

IBM has been busy making investments in companies that use Watson, having recently announced it was devoting $100 million for the Watson Group for that purpose. In February, IBM announced an investment in Welltok, which develops the CafeWell Health Optimization Platform. In January 2014, IBM said it was investing $1 billion into the Watson Group to help bring cloud-based apps and services to the market.

Terms of the two latest investments were not disclosed.

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