International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM) announced today that its Watson cloud computing system would be broken off into its own business division and given a new headquarters in New York City. Watson leaped to fame back in 2011 when it became an undefeated champion on the game show Jeopardy. Watson even defeated 74-time Jeopardy winner Ken Jennings in the final match on the show. Watson has grown up today into a mega-cloud-computing system that IBM deems valuable enough to deserve its own business division.
IBM’s Watson is a true learning machine
Watson is not like other computers, according to International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM), because it doesn’t just follow pre-programmed instructions, it learns and evolves into a smarter system.
International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM) CEO Ginni Rometty laid the world at Watson’s feet in a statement released earlier today, describing the world’s smartest computer as “built for a world where big data is transforming every industry and every profession.”
“Watson does more than find the needle in the haystack,” Rometty said in the press release put out before the the company’s Thursday presentation. “It understands the haystack. It understands context.”
New NYC headquarters
Watson’s new home will be in East Village near to New York University and a number of other technology companies. The headquarters building is described as an angular glass structure designed to stand out from the largely older buildings in the East Village neighborhood. International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM) has also earmarked more than $100 million to go toward investments in startup companies developing a variety of apps for use with Watson.
The statement also highlighted that the new division will eventually employ around 2,000 people, including several hundred employees located at the new headquarters.
International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM) exec Michael Rhodin, who was named to lead the new division, said the establishment of the new division marks the start of a new era for IBM, and specifically stated the unique architecture of the new headquarters is intended as a departure from IBM’s other more traditional headquarters buildings.
International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM) was trading down 57 cents at $187.40 on the NYSE as of 2:25 PM EST.