Google, world’s biggest tech giant, is following its artificial intelligence dreams with aggression. In a step forward, the company has acquired India’s Bengaluru based startup Halli Labs. Google’s Vice President, Product Managment, Caesar Sengupta on Wednesday tweeted, “Welcome @Pankaj and the team at @halli_labs to Google. Looking forward to building some cool stuff together.” Halli Labs, was founded by Pankaj Gupta, an it builds deep learning and machine learning syste. In a blogpost, the company said, “We are thrilled to share the news that the Halli Labs team is joining Google.” Halli Labs is a startup, which was founded with the aim to apply modern AI and ML algorithms to domains which helps technology to do things in an easier and better way.
The move by Google to acquire Halli Labs might have something to do with the background of its founder Pankaj Gupta, an IIT graduate. Gupta, a doctorate in philosophy (PhD) from Stanford University, is a data scientist with an interesting history that includes running recommendation (‘Whom to Follow’ feature) and personalisation at Twitter, and a role as CTO at now-defunct Indian Airbnb rival Stayzilla, among other entrepreneurial ventures. Halli Labs team, in a blog post, wrote, “Well, what better place than Google to help us achieve this goal. We will be joining Google’s ‘Next Billion Users’ team to help get more technology and information into more people’s hands around the world. We couldn’t be more excited!” Pankaj Gupta is a Silicon Valley star, and maybe that is why his startup got noticed. When he had announced his departure to India to open his startup, Gupta described working in San Francisco as being in Florence during Renaissance. This itself tells you how Halli Labs has dreamt the future and how it can help Google in it.
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Halli Labs has been working on several projects, including ‘speed recognition’ and (NLP) natural language processing. Interestingly, it has not shipped any technology to consumers, but it is understandable since the firm was founded just 4 months ago. Meanwhile, there is no official data on the financial details of Google’s acquisition of Halli Labs. Since last, Google has been working on services to better serve the untapped Indian market. Some of these include improved translation services and better voice recognition support for local languages. Now, with the acquisition of an India company, Google has shown how important it is for the company to make use if resources from India if it wants to be a truly global company.
When it comes to AI, other tech giants like Apple, Facebook and Microsoft, have invested a lot in acquiring companies, with an aim to build the future. Even Google CEO Sundar Pichai, with his “AI First” policy, has been quite vocal about Google’s plans to work on machine learning-based systems. The companies have been trying to build upon its AI, mainly because there is so much data which gets accumulated when due to the huge number of users now. Features like Apple SIRI, Microsoft Cortana, Google Assistant are prime examples of how tech companies can use data to better its services. Even Facebook is known for using it for targetted ads. Due to this, any company which can lead the AI ecosystem will have an edge. Based on market intelligence research firm IDC’s data, the AI market currently stands at $8 billion, but experts believe that the number will surge multiple times in the next couple of years. In fact, according to research by CB Insights, the big companies have acquired as many as 34 AI startups in 2017 itself.
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Acquisition of Halli Labs is a perfect move, and that is evident from how the company described itself in its first blog. It says, “Halli Labs is applying modern ML (machine learning) techniques to old problems and domains to help technology march on in its timeless purpose- that of giving superhuman powers to all of us humans in letting us do, whatever we want to do, better.”