Amir Sariri is a Ph.D. student in Strategic Management at the Rotman School and a Research Fellow at the Creative Destruction Lab. His research interests centre on the economics of innovation. He focuses on the economics of artificial intelligence and conducts research on the labor market for AI scientists and implications of AI academic entrepreneurship on the rate and direction of research.
The Race For AI: Google, Twitter, Intel, Apple In A Rush To Grab Artificial Intelligence Startups

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

Nearly half of the AI companies acquired since 2011 have had VC backing.

Nearly half of the AI companies acquired since 2011 have had VC backing.

[This post was originally published by CB Insights on December 6, 2016]

Nearly 140 private companies working to advance artificial intelligence technologies have been acquired since 2011, with over 40 acquisitions taking place in 2016 alone. 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 in October with its acquisition of startup Viv Labs, which is developing a Siri-like AI assistant, and GE making 2 AI acquisitions in November.

 

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. 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.

Intel and Apple are tied for second place. The former acquired 3 startups this year alone: Itseez, Nervana Systems, and Movidius, while Apple acquired Turi and Tuplejump recently.

Twitter is the next most-active acquirer, with 4 major acquisitions, the most recent being image-processing startup Magic Pony.

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. GE made 2 acquisitions in November 2016: AI-IoT startup Bit Stew Systems, and CRM-focused Wise.io.

We updated this timeline in November to include acquirers that have made at least 2 acquisitions since 2011.

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