Facebook launched its virtual assistant called M with a lot of hype, but so far it hasn’t lived up to expectations. However, this has not deterred the social networking giant from trying to reach its goal, for which it has now acquired a small AI startup which will be integrated into its messaging app, notes Business Insider.
What Ozlo’s tech does
Announcing the acquisition of Ozlo, a Palo Alto, California-based company, on Monday, Facebook said, “We’re excited to welcome the Ozlo team as we build compelling experiences within Messenger that are powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning.”
Ozlo was founded four years ago, and it describes itself as “an index of knowledge about the real world.” Ozlo launched a suite of APIs in March, and the company’s knowledge graph is one of its key differentiators. It has a huge database of facts about the world that helps it demonstrate the required sense of intelligence. According to TechCrunch, Ozlo’s knowledge layer was offered as a service to developers.
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A demo on the archived version of Ozlo’s site gives a sneak peek of its tech. In the demo, a user is seen putting up a query about how he can stream a particular TV show in the cheapest way. To this, Ozlo responds in a natural language and proposes various viewing options, notes Business Insider. Following the acquisition, Ozlo will shut down its apps and API services, notes Recode.
Ozlo has made its assistant available outside of other apps with assistants such as Google’s Allo, Microsoft’s Skype and Facebook’s Messenger. Ozlo’s tech helps with the locations of nearby restaurants, movie showtimes, recipes and more. The app, however, has not grown popular, with just 500-1,000 installs on Android, notes CNBC.
How Ozlo could help Facebook
According to Recode, Facebook will buy Ozlo’s technology and workforce. Ozlo currently has 30 employees, according to the company’s website. Most of them will join Messenger in Facebook’s offices located in Menlo Park, California or in Seattle, Washington, a Facebook spokesperson said.
“They’re just going to be working with [Messenger] to continue their work with artificial intelligence and machine learning,” the spokesperson said without revealing the financial terms of the deal.
The company was previously backed by AME Cloud Ventures and Greylock Partners.
What exactly the Ozlo team will work on at Facebook is not confirmed, but it is possible that the company’s knowledge graph will serve as the backbone for Facebook M. Earlier this year, we saw the roll-out of recommendations from Messenger’s AI assistant. Facebook has publicly featured its improvements, which are only concerned with building a text-based assistant. On the contrary, competitors such as Amazon, Apple and Google are building voice-controlled AI assistants.
Other tech companies are also making acquisitions to grow their AI expertise. Recently, Apple acquired Lattice Data to develop a knowledge graph which can be used to answer user queries.
On Monday, Facebook shares closed down 0.43% at $148.85. Year to date, the stock is up more than 28%, while in the last year, it is up almost 43%.