Artificial intelligence-focused startup, Ozlo, has recently been acquired by Facebook. This is a bid to improve the way that Facebook Messenger’s virtual assistant operates. Ozlo, founded four years ago, has proven abilities in engaging in text-based conversations. The acquisition was confirmed in an online posting.
“[Ozlo] has built a knowledge graph containing over 2 billion entities and created amazing AI technology that uses this data to understand real-world nuances. Now, we’re ready to take the next step in our journey with Messenger,” read the post on Ozlo’s website.
The current employees at Ozlo, numbering around 30, will largely be integrated into the Facebook Messenger teams in Seattle, Washington or Menlo Park, California. They will continue work with artificial intelligence and machine learning. Further terms of the deal have not been disclosed.
The team at Ozlo stated in an official release that, “Now, we're ready to take the next step in our journey with Messenger. By joining a team that shares our values and our vision, we will be able to continue to work on building experiences powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning. There's a lot more for us to explore ahead and we're excited to bring our technology to the Messenger community.”
Ozlo’s app for mobile devices and the web was unveiled in October 2016. The initial focus of the app was in assisting users with looking through restaurant listings. However, it quickly expanded to include other business services, like weather forecasts and film listings. These abilities allow for connecting many types of information, which could go far with Facebook Messenger.
Ozlo raised approximately $14 million in 2016 from venture capital funds, includ8ing Greylock Partners and AME Ventures. Yahoo Co-Founder, Jerry Yang, also participated in the funding at this time.
Facebook is known for acquiring various startups as means of helping to build their technology and brand. Some of the most recent acquisitions include Source3, FacioMetrics, CrowdTangle, and Nascent Objects Inc.
Ozlo can quickly synthesize knowledge, which may help Facebook in their attempts to control and prevent fake news. This is a recent sore spot for the platform, which was highlighted during the most recent United States Presidential election. The intelligence available by Ozlo could help with making judgments that are based on knowledge, rather than simple artificial intelligence filters.
The main idea behind Ozlo is to boost Messenger, however there are other uses that could be utilized. It could be used as an interface between humans and computers in cars, televisions, and other electronic devices. This seems possible as many other major companies, including Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Samsung, have similar goals at this time.
As Facebook’s artificial intelligence assistant has never taken off, this could make M potentially ready to compete with services like Apple’s Siri and Google Assistance. However, at this time, reports show that M’s abilities are largely handled by humans, rather than artificial intelligence.