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CB InsightsMerger amp; Acquisitionstartups

Google is Top Acquirer of AI Startups Globally

The acquisition war is on in the tech industry, and when it comes to AI Merger and Acquisition (M&A) activity, tech giant Google has emerged at the top of a recent CB Insights list.

According to data made available by CB Insights, the New York-based company which claims to be the most trusted source in private company data, over 200 private companies that make use of AI algorithms across different verticals have been acquired since the year 2012. Out of these, over 30 acquisitions took place in Q1’17 alone (as of 3/24/17). The quarter also witnessed Ford’s acquisition of Argo AI for a whopping $1B. The deal is being deemed as one of the largest M&A deals till date.

Tech giant Google has had a long AI M&A history. In the year 2013, it acquired DNNresearch, which is a deep learning and neural network startup, from University of Toronto's computer science department. According to tech experts, the DNNresearch helped the search giant in making major upgrades to its much-loved image search feature. Then a year later in 2014, Google caused major ripples in the tech world when it purchased Deep Mind, which was a little known deep learning startup from Cambridge at that time, for a reported $600M.



The tech giant followed its AI M&A activity in 2016 by acquiring bot platform Api.ai, and visual search startup Moodstock. And more recently, in Q1’17, Google managed to get its hands on Kaggle, a predictive analytics platform.

While Google acquires the first position on CB Insights list which tracks AI M&A from 2012 till Q1’17, the second place has been awarded to Apple, which is followed by Facebook and Intel at third.

With a total of 7 acquisitions in time period from 2012 to Q1'17, Apple can been seen ramping up its M&A activity year by year. It's most recent acquisition was Tel Aviv-based RealFace for a whopping amount of $2M.

Facebook and Intel have tied for third place on the list with 5 acquisitions each. While Intel acquired 3 startups, Itseez, Nervana Systems, and Movidius last year alone, Facebook's recent AI acquisitions include Switzerland-based Zurich Eye and Belarus-based Masquerade.

Though fourth on the list, Twitter is being considered as the most-active AI acquirer as the the company has made 4 major acquisitions in the 2012 to Q1'17 time frame. It's most recent acquisition is an image-processing startup Magic Pony. Twitter is tied with Microsoft for the fourth position on the list. The latter recently picked Genee and a conversational AI startup Maluuba.

American cloud computing company Salesforce, which joined the AI M&A race much later in 2015 with the acquisition of Tempo AI also appears on the CB Insights light. The company has made three acquisitions till date.

Uber, the transportation network company headquartered in San Francisco, is also a part of the AI M&A race and has made two acquisitions till date. It acquired Otto to lead Uber’s self-driving car effort in August last year and acquired Geometric Intelligence to create an AI lab in December last year.

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