Google buys AI-chatbot startup Onward

While the terms of the deal have not yet been disclosed, the acquisition signals Google’s ambition to improve their own customer service operations and the overall capabilities of Google Assistant. As part of the deal, Onward’s co-founders Rémi Cossart and Pramod Thammaiah, as well as CTO Aaron Podolny, will be joining Google.

This is not the first time Google has invested in startups that specialise in assistant apps and hardware, take, for example, GoMoment, Edwin and BotSociety.

>See also: Investing in artificial intelligence: What businesses need to know

Earlier this year, Google’s  Sanjay Kapoor, VP, Corporate development and Nick Fox, VP Product & Design, Search and Assistants wrote: “We’re opening a new investment program for early-stage startups that share our passion for the digital assistant ecosystem, helping to push new ideas forward and advance the possibilities of what digital assistants can do. We’re welcoming companies across a diverse range of fields, including startups that are developing technologies that broaden the Assistant’s set of features, or are building new hardware devices for digital assistants, or that focus on a particular industry such as travel, games, or hospitality.”

>See also: Google is applying machine learning to more than 100 projects …

Onward, which according to LinkedIn has less than ten employees, develops AI technologies. Their most prominent product is Agent Q, an AI-powered shopping tool.

“We started Onward with the mission of allowing computers to participate in natural, human conversations,” said a spokesperson from Onward. “With Google, we’ll be able to expand the reach of the technologies that power Onward. These core technologies are what got us excited in the first place, and we are excited to bring them to Google.”

>See also: Artificial Intelligence — what CTOs and co need to know

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Andrew Ross

As a reporter with Information Age, Andrew Ross writes articles for technology leaders; helping them manage business critical issues both for today and in the future