Facebook has acquired Wit.ai, a voice recognition start-up that processes speech and turns it into actionable data. The acquisition will help the social networking giant get more information for targeted advertisements, according to The WSJ.
Financial terms not revealed
Wit.ai is a Palo Alto-based company set up in 2013, and post-acquisition, it will be merged with the Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) offices in nearby Menlo Park, according to a Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) spokeswoman. Further, some employees, along with the three founders, will be hired by Facebook. There was no comment from the spokeswoman about the sum paid by Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) to acquire the start-up.
With the integration of Wit.ai’s technology, Facebook users will be able to speak commands that will be posted as text messages. The social networking company already has a feature that pokes its users to post about music they are listening or videos they are watching.
In a blog post, Wit.ai said the social network has the resources and talent to help it take the “next step.” It further read that Facebook’s mission is to connect everyone and build an amazing experience for the 1.3 billion people on the platform with the help of technology “that understands natural language.”
Wit.ai was originally founded by Alex Lebrun, Willy Blandin and Laurent Landowski. According to his LinkedIn profile, Lebrun was also the founder and chief executive of VirtuOz, which was acquired by Nuance Communications, maker of the popular Dragon voice recognition software. Mr. Landowski was VirtuOz’s general manager in Europe.
Will Facebook use Wit.ai for Messenger?
To some, the latest acquisition by Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) does not seem to fit well in the company’s portfolio. The argument behind the misfit acquisition is that Wit.ai is used by more than 6,000 software developers, and the majority of them do not have anything to do with Facebook. But a report from Wired claims the acquisition of Wit.ai will allow Facebook to enhance one of its most important projects: Messenger, the instant messaging app which has been running as a standalone app since last year.
As of now, there are no comments from Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) about if Wit.ai will be integrated with Messenger or not. The official statement read that Wit.ai has designed an incredible yet simple natural language processing API that allows developers convert speech and text into actionable data. It also said Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) is excited to have Wit.ai on board. Although Facebook is focused on making Messenger better, another one of its technologies, Parse, can also extract benefits from the acquisition.