The Race For AI: Google, Twitter, Intel, Apple In A Rush To Grab Artificial Intelligence Startups

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Nearly 140 private companies working to advance artificial intelligence technologies have been acquired since 2011, with over 40 acquisitions taking place in 2016 alone (as of 10/7/2016). Corporate giants like Google, IBM, Yahoo, Intel, Apple and Salesforce, are competing in the race to acquire private AI companies, with Samsung emerging as a new entrant this month with its acquisition of startup Viv Labs, which is developing a Siri-like AI assistant. Google has been the most prominent global player, with 11 acquisitions in the category under its belt (follow all of Google's M&A activity here through our real-time Google acquisitions tracker). In 2013, the corporate giant picked up deep learning and neural network startup DNNresearch from the computer science department at the University of Toronto. This acquisition reportedly helped Google make major upgrades to its image search feature.


The Race For AI: Google, Twitter, Intel, Apple In A Rush To Grab Artificial Intelligence Startups

#artificialintelligence

More than 30 private companies working to advance artificial intelligence technologies have been acquired in the last 5 years by corporate giants competing in the space, including Google, IBM, Yahoo, Intel, and, more recently, Apple and Salesforce. There have been 5 major acquisitions already in 2016. Google has been the most prominent global player, with 9 acquisitions in the category under its belt (follow all of Google's M&A activity here through our real-time Google acquisitions tracker). In 2013, the corporate giant picked up deep learning and neural network startup DNNresearch from the computer science department at the University of Toronto. This acquisition reportedly helped Google make major upgrades to its image search feature.


The Race For AI: Google, Twitter, Intel, Apple In A Rush To Grab Artificial Intelligence Startups

#artificialintelligence

Corporate giants like Google, IBM, Yahoo, Intel, Apple and Salesforce, are competing in the race to acquire private AI companies, with Samsung emerging as a new entrant this month with its acquisition of startup Viv Labs, which is developing a Siri-like AI assistant. In 2014 Google acquired British company DeepMind Technologies for some 600M (Google DeepMind's program recently beat a human world champion in the board game "Go"). This year, it acquired visual search startup Moodstock, and bot platform Api.ai. Salesforce, which joined the race last year with the acquisition of Tempo AI, has already made two major acquisitions this year: Khosla Ventures-backed MetaMind and open-source machine-learning server PredictionIO.


This visual recognition startup has poached AI talent from Twitter

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Clarifai, a startup that creates visual recognition software, has hired four members of Twitter's machine learning team, Cortex, as well as an engineer formerly with Google Brain, the search giant's research group focused on artificial intelligence. Founded in 2013 by computer science PhD Matthew Zeiler after he did an internship with the Google research team, Clarifai licenses customizable software that can automatically organize and filter images. The startup's clients include BuzzFeed, travel site Trivago and consumer-packaged goods giant Unilever. The 40-employee startup (including new hires) has raised $41 million, including $30 million in a Series B round led by Menlo Ventures. The round included contributions from Union Square Ventures, Lux Capital and Qualcomm Ventures.


Uber Hires an AI Superstar in the Quest to Rehab Its Future

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Uber is hiring Raquel Urtasun, a prominent artificial intelligence researcher at the University of Toronto, as the ride-hailing company aims to build a lab for driverless car research in the Canadian city, a hotbed for AI talent. Urtasun--an associate professor at the university who specializes in the computer vision software that allows driverless cars to view the world around them--will oversee the new venture. "We hope to draw from the region's impressive talent pool as we grow, helping the dozens of researchers we plan to hire stay connected to the Toronto-Waterloo Corridor," Travis Kalanick, Uber's embattled CEO, wrote in a blog post published this morning. The move resonates on multiple levels, given the ongoing legal attack against Uber's existing computer vision technology by Waymo--the driverless car company that grew out of Google--and the widespread controversy over Uber's allegedly misogynistic internal culture. Urtasun could help the company forge another much-needed path to the kind of AI that driverless cars will require.