Acquisitions Accelerate as Tech Giants Seek to Build AI Smarts

Acquisitions Accelerate as Tech Giants Seek to Build AI Smarts

HIGHLIGHTS
Major tech companies are betting big on artificial intelligence
As a result, they are ending up in acquiring more AI startups than ever
Apple, Google, Uber, Ford etc., have acquired sizeable number of startups
A total of 34 artificial intelligence startups were acquired in the first quarter of this year, more than twice the amount of activity in the year-ago quarter, according to the research firm CB Insights.

Tech giants seeking to reinforce their leads in artificial intelligence or make up for lost ground have been the most aggressive buyers. Alphabet Inc’s Google has acquired 11 AI startups since 2012, the most of any firm, followed by Apple Inc, Facebook Inc and Intel Corp, respectively, according to CB Insights.

The companies declined to comment on their acquisition strategies. A spokesman for Apple did confirm the company’s recent purchase of Lattice Data, a startup that specialises in working with unstructured data.

The first quarter also saw one of the largest deals to date as Ford Motor Co invested $1 billion in Argo AI, founded by former executives on self-driving teams at Google and Uber Technologies Inc.

Startups are looking to go deep on applications of artificial intelligence to specific fields, such as health and retail, industry observers say, rather than compete directly with established companies.

“What you will see is very big players will build platform services, and startup communities will migrate more to applied intelligent apps,” said Matt McIlwain, managing director of Madrona Venture Group.

Healthcare startup Forward, for example, is using artificial intelligence to crunch data that can inform doctors’ recommendations.
“For people who really want to focus on core AI problems, it makes a lot of sense to be in bigger companies,” said Forward Chief Executive Officer Adrian Aoun, who previously worked at Google. “But for folks who really want to prove a new field, a new area, it makes more sense to be separate.”

Artificial intelligence companies that do remain independent field a steady stream of suitors: Matthew Zeiler, chief executive of Clarifai, which specialises in image and video recognition, said he has been approached about a dozen times by prospective acquirers since starting the company in late 2013.

Clarifai’s pitch to customers such as consumer goods company Unilever Plc and hotel search firm Trivago is bolstered by its narrow focus on artificial intelligence.

“(Google) literally competes with almost every company on the planet,” Zeiler said. “Are you going to trust them with being your partner for AI?”

Tech giants have been locked in a bidding war for academics specializing in artificial intelligence. Startups rarely have the capital to compete, but a company with a specialized mission can win over recruits, said Vic Gundotra, chief executive of AliveCor, which makes an AI-driven portable heart monitor.

“They say, ‘I want to come here and work on a project that might save my mother’s life,'” Gundotra said.

© Thomson Reuters 2017

For the latest tech news and reviews, follow Gadgets 360 on Twitter, Facebook, and subscribe to our YouTube channel.
Tags: AI, AI Startups, Artificial Intelligence, Uber, Ford, Facebook, Apple, Alphabet, Startups, Apps, Science, Intel

[“Source-ndtv”]

Microsoft’s Email Insights finally adds some useful search smarts to Outlook

email insights search

Ads by Kiosked
Credit: Microsoft

Email Insights, a new experimental app from the Microsoft Garage, is the answer to a problem Google’s Gmail solved more than a decade ago: how to search Outlook and find exactly what you want.

Google’s Gmail gained enormous traction in part because it allowed a quick, convenient way to search emails. Today, you can search Outlook, but it arranges the results in order with no real preference given to what might be most relevant.

Email Insights works with both your Microsoft Outlook desktop application as well as Gmail, and attempts to bring the three most relevant results to the top of your inbox via an “intent pane.” The tool also provides contextual autocomplete, spelling correction and a fuzzy name search that will pull up the name of a contact, even if you’re not entirely sure how to spell it.

email insights intent pane

Ads by Kiosked

Microsoft

The “intent pane” within Email Insights brings up relevant search results to the top of your inbox.

Users can open tabs within Email Insights to perform multiple searches. The search box can also be used to fire off a quick, one-line email to a contact, or even set up a quick meeting—functions that are becoming more common in the notifications window within smartphones.

If you’d like, you can even “detach” the Email Insights toolbar from Outlook itself and drag it down to your taskbar, Microsoft said.

Why this matters: Let’s face it: Gmail is still easier to use than Outlook, at least where everyday email searches are concerned. If Email Insights proves as useful as it sounds, maybe Outlook will incorporate it into a future release. The problem, though, is that this app is being published via Microsoft Garage, Microsoft’s online home for app experiments. If you like Email Insights, encourage others to download it, too. Otherwise, Microsoft could kill it, as it recently did with Cache, its erstwhile Google Keep killer.

To comment on this article and other PCWorld content, visit our Facebook page or our Twitter feed.
[“source-smallbiztrends”]