Google has acquired Bangalore-based Halli Labs, which focuses on Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and Neuro-Linguistic Programming. Halli Labs will be joining Google’s Next Billion Users team, which is primarily focused on mobile and aims to address issues such as low bandwidth & intermittent connectivity, conserving data usage, reducing battery consumption, developing multi-device content, supporting more digital payments systems, and creating localised content among others.

Halli Labs was founded by Pankaj Gupta, who also co-founded the San Francisco-based co-investment and technical advisory group Specialized Types in August 2015. Prior to that, he had served as an advisor for Matrix Partners India and Nexus Venture Partners India between March 2017 and May 2017. Before that, he served as the chief product officer and chief technology officer at hotel booking site Stayzilla between June 2016 and March 2017. He had also been part of Twitter for over five years in a variety of roles, the last of which was as a data scientist.

The rise of AI acquisitions

A number of technology companies have been acquiring AI and machine learning startups:

  • Uber created a new division for research in AI and ML, following the acquisition of a research startup called Geometric Intelligence in December 2016.
  • Apple acquired Hyderabad-based Tuplejump in September 2016, and UK-based Perceptio in October 2015.
  • Google acquired French machine learning startup Moodstocks in July 2016.
  • Twitter had acquired London-based Magic Pony to enhance its machine learning capabilities in image processing, also in June 2016.
  • Facebook acquired Wit.ai, a San Francisco-based startup that developed a speech-recognition platform for different devices and offers it through APIs, back in January 2015.

AI Partnership: In 2016, Amazon, Google, Facebook, IBM, Microsoft and Google’s DeepMind launched a partnership on AI to support research including ethics, fairness and inclusion, transparency, interoperability, privacy, collaboration of people and AI systems.