Machine learning and artificial intelligence are undoubtedly the latest obsessions of all the major tech companies today. And many are expanding their efforts in the segment largely through acquisitions. In one such instance, the Cupertino giant Apple has reportedly acquired a Seattle-based machine learning startup called Turi. The financial details of the deal remain undisclosed but various reports suggest the deal worth $200 million.
Apple, as usual, has played down the acquisition and gave its trademark statement it particularly reserves for similar reports,
“Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”
Turi, formerly known as Dato and Graphlab, was founded by a University of Washington professor named Carlos Guestrin. The company originated from an open-source project under Carlos at Carnegie Mellon in 2009.
After spinning off from the project, Graphlab raised $6.75 million in series A from Madrona Venture group and NEA. Last year in January, it secured $18.5 million and changed its name to Dato. However, it had to change its name again last month due to trademark issues.
The company allows developers to build apps with machine learning and artificial intelligence capabilities that can automatically scale up on their own. It also helps small and large organisations to make better sense of data through its products like Turi Machine Learning Platform, GraphLab Create, Turi Distributed, and Turi Predictive Services.
Since Apple has not disclosed any details about the deal, it remains unclear how it plans to use Turi. Apple already has made significant advancements in AI through its personal assistant Siri. But, sources suggest that Turi team will remain in the Seattle area and work under Apple from there.
Notably, Seattle area is said to be emerging as a hub of artificial intelligence and machine learning. Apple also set up its engineering office in the area after it acquired a stealth cloud networking startup called Union Bay Networks in Seattle in 2014.
Some of the recent acquisitions of Apple similar to Turi (Perceptio and VocalIQ) show that it is serious about this particular segment. Overall also, Apple has become more active in acquisitions of lately.
Since 2015, it has made 15 acquisitions since early 2015 including the above. In this year also, the Cupertino giant acquired Flyby Media, Emotient, LegbaCore and LearnSprout.
Earlier this year, Tim Cook had hinted at the company being more active in mergers and acquisitions after a global slowdown in sales of its products. Moreover, the company has all means to do so as it reported $231 billion cash reserves in its most recent earnings report.