About: Grapeshot is a software technology company using advanced Information Retrieval techniques pioneered at Cambridge University


Grapeshot uses advanced probabilistic algorithms to assess the relative significance of keywords in pages and what users read. Dr Porter, Grapeshot founder and chief scientist, is considered one of the 'founding fathers' of probabilistic search and has worked at the cutting edge of information retrieval and search technology for over 30 years.

Dr Porter is world-famous for his 'Porter Stemmer', now taught in many Computer Science university degree courses, and used by every major search engine platform including Microsoft Bing and Google. Type 'Porter Stemmer' into Google to see his pedigree and references.

Dr Porter has used small, efficient, scalable algorithms to power word-extraction, real-time categorization, and advanced search methods. These are the technological advantages Grapeshot exploits to make millisecond-fast categorisations in real time to decide which advertising, e-commerce, and content recommendations to make on each and every page impression.


Tim Schoonmaker, Chairman

Tim Schoonmaker manages a portfolio of public company investments and is an early-stage Grapeshot investor. He was at Emap plc. from 1983 to 2004, where he was CEO of Emap Performance, including the group's radio and music TV interests, pioneering cross-media brand creation through digital platforms. Tim was also Chairman of EMAP Advertising. Thereafter, he was CEO of Odeon Cinemas Ltd, where he led the business through an exit that was successful for investors, as well as serving as the media industry partner of mid-market private equity fund DLJ Merchant Banking Partners. He holds an MBA from the London Business School and a BA from Dartmouth College.

Max Bautin, Partner, IQ Capital

Max has invested in over 30 high-tech companies - including DanioLabs (Summit), Novacta, Phonetic Arts (Google), Revieworld, Quotient (EKF), Veebeam, and Transversal - and currently sits on the boards of Grapeshot, Moviestorm, OnRelay, and Power Challenge. He started his career in Millicom and then Metrosvyaz, both private equity players investing in mobile telecoms companies in Eastern Europe and other emerging markets. He holds a BSc in Economics from the University of Maryland and an MBA from the University of Cambridge.

Dr Martin Porter, Chief Scientist, Grapeshot

Martin has devoted his working life to the implementation of information retrieval (IR) systems; in particular, probabilistic models. He studied at the University of Cambridge, achieving a distinction in the Diploma in Computer Science and took a PhD supervised by Karen Spärck Jones. His original stemming algorithm ('An algorithm for suffix stripping' Program, 14(3)) has become one of the most frequently cited papers in information retrieval research. In 2000, he won the Strix Award 'for outstanding contribution to the field of information retrieval'.

John Snyder, CEO, Grapeshot

In 1992 John co-founded Muscat with Dr Martin Porter and led its profitable commercial growth to a successful trade exit in 1997. From 2001, he led Business Creation at the Cambridge Entrepreneurship Centre, chaired the 5th Cambridge Enterprise Conference, co-founded Library House, Cambridge Angels, and Enterprise Accelerator, and served on the board of the East of England Development Agency for five years until 2008. John holds an Honours degree from the University of Cambridge, where he remains 'Entrepreneur in Residence'.


The Grapeshot founders first worked together in 1992, developing the commercial use of the Muscat software, first developed and installed on the University of Cambridge's mainframe systems in the 1980s. This probabilistic search system was installed as internet- and intranet-search solutions for the BBC, Virgin.Net, Shell, Nokia, NASA, Telegraph, Greenpeace, Sun Microsystems, and 100 other corporations. After doubling revenues year on year for five years, the business was sold in 1997 to a public company.

Muscat technology was subsequently used to build one of the first large search indexes of the internet. In 1999 the Muscat team was neck-and-neck with Google, with each team indexing half a billion webpages.

The Grapeshot founders resigned in 2001 and started work on creating fresh, new code that could surpass the Muscat technology platform and deliver real-time classification and content recommendations. In 2006 the new code was deployed by Verisign Inc. to index over 100 million websites, as well as suggest domain names for domain registrars. Verisign continues to license the core Grapeshot platform today.

In 2007 Grapeshot worked with both Reuters and IBM to create personalised content experiences using new web-services architecture, before moving to online advertising in 2008 to recommend relevant advertorials on niche B2B sites owned by Incisive Media.

In 2009 the company scaled up its new web-service operations to populate the content recommendations for Virgin Media's Entertainment assets - TV, Movies and Film - whilst delivering targeted contextual advertising for publishers using the DoubleClick and Adtech ad server platforms.

By 2010 Grapeshot had signed up the majority of the UK publisher market including Mail Online, IPC Media, Johnston Press, Trinity Mirror, Reuters, and Incisive Media.

In 2011 Grapeshot started to work with buy-side agencies to help segment inventory according to keywords that define a brand's targeting needs for display media.

In April 2012 Grapeshot launched the Grapeshot Keywords app which has quickly become one of the top most-used apps on the AppNexus RTB platform.