Microsoft buys conversational AI company Semantic Machines for an undisclosed sum

Microsoft announced it has acquired Semantic Machines, a conversational AI startup providing chatbots and AI chat apps founded in 2014 having $20.9 million in funding from investors. The acquisition will help Microsoft catch up with Amazon Alexa, though the latter is more focused on enabling consumer applications of conversational AI.

Microsoft buys conversational AI company Semantic Machines for an undisclosed sum 1 image

Microsoft will use Semantic Machine’s acquisition to establish a conversational AI center of excellence in Berkeley to help it innovate in natural language interfaces.

Microsoft has been stepping up its products in conversational AI. It launched the digital assistant Cortana in 2015, as well as social chatbots like XiaoIce. The latest acquisition can help Microsoft beef up its ‘enterprise AI’ offerings.

As the use of NLP (natural language processing) increases in IoT products and services, more startups are getting traction from investors and established players. In June last year, Josh.ai, avoice-controlled home automation software has raised $8M.

Followed by it was SparkCognition that raised $32.5M Series B for its NLP-based threat intelligence platform.

It appears Microsoft’s acquisition of Semantic Machines was motivated by the latter’s strong AI team. The team includes technology entrepreneur Daniel Roth who sold his previous startups Voice Signal Technologies and Shaser BioScience for $300M and $100M respectively. Other team members include Stanford AI Professor Percy Liang, developer of Google Assistant Core AI technology and former Apple chief speech scientist Larry Gillick.

“Combining Semantic Machines’ technology with Microsoft’s own AI advances, we aim to deliver powerful, natural and more productive user experiences that will take conversational computing to a new level.” David Ku, chief technology officer of Microsoft AI & Research.

Trend Reports

10 Trends to Watch

What are the technology and user trends that will shape your business?

[gravityform id="38" title="false" description="false" ajax="true" tabindex="49"]
<div class='gf_browser_unknown gform_wrapper' id='gform_wrapper_38' ><div id='gf_38' class='gform_anchor' tabindex='-1'></div><form method='post' enctype='multipart/form-data' target='gform_ajax_frame_38' id='gform_38' action='/pulse/microsoft-buys-conversational-ai-company-semantic-machines-for-an-undisclosed-sum/#gf_38'> <div class='gform_body'><ul id='gform_fields_38' class='gform_fields top_label form_sublabel_below description_below'><li id='field_38_2' class='gfield field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible' ><label class='gfield_label gfield_label_before_complex' >Your Name</label><div class='ginput_complex ginput_container no_prefix has_first_name no_middle_name no_last_name no_suffix gf_name_has_1 ginput_container_name' id='input_38_2'> <span id='input_38_2_3_container' class='name_first' > <input type='text' name='input_2.3' id='input_38_2_3' value='' aria-label='First name' tabindex='50' aria-invalid="false" /> <label for='input_38_2_3' >First</label> </span> </div></li><li id='field_38_3' class='gfield field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible' ><label class='gfield_label' for='input_38_3' >Can you share a high level overview of what you are looking for?</label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_textarea'><textarea name='input_3' id='input_38_3' class='textarea medium' tabindex='54' aria-invalid="false" rows='10' cols='50'></textarea></div></li><li id='field_38_4' class='gfield field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible' ><label class='gfield_label' for='input_38_4' >Best way to reach you?</label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_text'><input name='input_4' id='input_38_4' type='text' value='' class='medium' tabindex='55' aria-invalid="false" /></div></li> </ul></div> <div class='gform_footer top_label'> <input type='submit' id='gform_submit_button_38' class='gform_button button' value='Submit' tabindex='56' onclick='if(window["gf_submitting_38"]){return false;} window["gf_submitting_38"]=true; ' onkeypress='if( event.keyCode == 13 ){ if(window["gf_submitting_38"]){return false;} window["gf_submitting_38"]=true; jQuery("#gform_38").trigger("submit",[true]); }' /> <input type='hidden' name='gform_ajax' value='form_id=38&amp;title=&amp;description=&amp;tabindex=49' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='is_submit_38' value='1' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_submit' value='38' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_unique_id' value='' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='state_38' value='WyJbXSIsIjI0MzNjYTY3YTUxNWM5ZTM5NmFkOWNiZWJiMjkyMDYyIl0=' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_target_page_number_38' id='gform_target_page_number_38' value='0' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_source_page_number_38' id='gform_source_page_number_38' value='1' /> <input type='hidden' name='gform_field_values' value='' /> </div> </form> </div> <iframe style='display:none;width:0px;height:0px;' src='about:blank' name='gform_ajax_frame_38' id='gform_ajax_frame_38'>This iframe contains the logic required to handle Ajax powered Gravity Forms.</iframe> <script type='text/javascript'>jQuery(document).ready(function($){gformInitSpinner( 38, 'https://www.postscapes.com/wp-content/plugins/gravityforms/images/spinner.gif' );jQuery('#gform_ajax_frame_38').on('load',function(){var contents = jQuery(this).contents().find('*').html();var is_postback = contents.indexOf('GF_AJAX_POSTBACK') >= 0;if(!is_postback){return;}var form_content = jQuery(this).contents().find('#gform_wrapper_38');var is_confirmation = jQuery(this).contents().find('#gform_confirmation_wrapper_38').length > 0;var is_redirect = contents.indexOf('gformRedirect(){') >= 0;var is_form = form_content.length > 0 && ! is_redirect && ! is_confirmation;var mt = parseInt(jQuery('html').css('margin-top'), 10) + parseInt(jQuery('body').css('margin-top'), 10) + 100;if(is_form){jQuery('#gform_wrapper_38').html(form_content.html());if(form_content.hasClass('gform_validation_error')){jQuery('#gform_wrapper_38').addClass('gform_validation_error');} else {jQuery('#gform_wrapper_38').removeClass('gform_validation_error');}setTimeout( function() { /* delay the scroll by 50 milliseconds to fix a bug in chrome */ jQuery(document).scrollTop(jQuery('#gform_wrapper_38').offset().top - mt); }, 50 );if(window['gformInitDatepicker']) {gformInitDatepicker();}if(window['gformInitPriceFields']) {gformInitPriceFields();}var current_page = jQuery('#gform_source_page_number_38').val();gformInitSpinner( 38, 'https://www.postscapes.com/wp-content/plugins/gravityforms/images/spinner.gif' );jQuery(document).trigger('gform_page_loaded', [38, current_page]);window['gf_submitting_38'] = false;}else if(!is_redirect){var confirmation_content = jQuery(this).contents().find('.GF_AJAX_POSTBACK').html();if(!confirmation_content){confirmation_content = contents;}setTimeout(function(){jQuery('#gform_wrapper_38').replaceWith(confirmation_content);jQuery(document).scrollTop(jQuery('#gf_38').offset().top - mt);jQuery(document).trigger('gform_confirmation_loaded', [38]);window['gf_submitting_38'] = false;}, 50);}else{jQuery('#gform_38').append(contents);if(window['gformRedirect']) {gformRedirect();}}jQuery(document).trigger('gform_post_render', [38, current_page]);} );} );</script><script type='text/javascript'> jQuery(document).bind('gform_post_render', function(event, formId, currentPage){if(formId == 38) {} } );jQuery(document).bind('gform_post_conditional_logic', function(event, formId, fields, isInit){} );</script><script type='text/javascript'> jQuery(document).ready(function(){jQuery(document).trigger('gform_post_render', [38, 1]) } ); </script>
[gravityform id="38" title="false" description="false" ajax="true" tabindex="49"]
<div class='gf_browser_unknown gform_wrapper' id='gform_wrapper_38' ><div id='gf_38' class='gform_anchor' tabindex='-1'></div><form method='post' enctype='multipart/form-data' target='gform_ajax_frame_38' id='gform_38' action='/pulse/microsoft-buys-conversational-ai-company-semantic-machines-for-an-undisclosed-sum/#gf_38'> <div class='gform_body'><ul id='gform_fields_38' class='gform_fields top_label form_sublabel_below description_below'><li id='field_38_2' class='gfield field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible' ><label class='gfield_label gfield_label_before_complex' >Your Name</label><div class='ginput_complex ginput_container no_prefix has_first_name no_middle_name no_last_name no_suffix gf_name_has_1 ginput_container_name' id='input_38_2'> <span id='input_38_2_3_container' class='name_first' > <input type='text' name='input_2.3' id='input_38_2_3' value='' aria-label='First name' tabindex='50' aria-invalid="false" /> <label for='input_38_2_3' >First</label> </span> </div></li><li id='field_38_3' class='gfield field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible' ><label class='gfield_label' for='input_38_3' >Can you share a high level overview of what you are looking for?</label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_textarea'><textarea name='input_3' id='input_38_3' class='textarea medium' tabindex='54' aria-invalid="false" rows='10' cols='50'></textarea></div></li><li id='field_38_4' class='gfield field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible' ><label class='gfield_label' for='input_38_4' >Best way to reach you?</label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_text'><input name='input_4' id='input_38_4' type='text' value='' class='medium' tabindex='55' aria-invalid="false" /></div></li> </ul></div> <div class='gform_footer top_label'> <input type='submit' id='gform_submit_button_38' class='gform_button button' value='Submit' tabindex='56' onclick='if(window["gf_submitting_38"]){return false;} window["gf_submitting_38"]=true; ' onkeypress='if( event.keyCode == 13 ){ if(window["gf_submitting_38"]){return false;} window["gf_submitting_38"]=true; jQuery("#gform_38").trigger("submit",[true]); }' /> <input type='hidden' name='gform_ajax' value='form_id=38&amp;title=&amp;description=&amp;tabindex=49' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='is_submit_38' value='1' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_submit' value='38' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_unique_id' value='' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='state_38' value='WyJbXSIsIjI0MzNjYTY3YTUxNWM5ZTM5NmFkOWNiZWJiMjkyMDYyIl0=' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_target_page_number_38' id='gform_target_page_number_38' value='0' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_source_page_number_38' id='gform_source_page_number_38' value='1' /> <input type='hidden' name='gform_field_values' value='' /> </div> </form> </div> <iframe style='display:none;width:0px;height:0px;' src='about:blank' name='gform_ajax_frame_38' id='gform_ajax_frame_38'>This iframe contains the logic required to handle Ajax powered Gravity Forms.</iframe> <script type='text/javascript'>jQuery(document).ready(function($){gformInitSpinner( 38, 'https://www.postscapes.com/wp-content/plugins/gravityforms/images/spinner.gif' );jQuery('#gform_ajax_frame_38').on('load',function(){var contents = jQuery(this).contents().find('*').html();var is_postback = contents.indexOf('GF_AJAX_POSTBACK') >= 0;if(!is_postback){return;}var form_content = jQuery(this).contents().find('#gform_wrapper_38');var is_confirmation = jQuery(this).contents().find('#gform_confirmation_wrapper_38').length > 0;var is_redirect = contents.indexOf('gformRedirect(){') >= 0;var is_form = form_content.length > 0 && ! is_redirect && ! is_confirmation;var mt = parseInt(jQuery('html').css('margin-top'), 10) + parseInt(jQuery('body').css('margin-top'), 10) + 100;if(is_form){jQuery('#gform_wrapper_38').html(form_content.html());if(form_content.hasClass('gform_validation_error')){jQuery('#gform_wrapper_38').addClass('gform_validation_error');} else {jQuery('#gform_wrapper_38').removeClass('gform_validation_error');}setTimeout( function() { /* delay the scroll by 50 milliseconds to fix a bug in chrome */ jQuery(document).scrollTop(jQuery('#gform_wrapper_38').offset().top - mt); }, 50 );if(window['gformInitDatepicker']) {gformInitDatepicker();}if(window['gformInitPriceFields']) {gformInitPriceFields();}var current_page = jQuery('#gform_source_page_number_38').val();gformInitSpinner( 38, 'https://www.postscapes.com/wp-content/plugins/gravityforms/images/spinner.gif' );jQuery(document).trigger('gform_page_loaded', [38, current_page]);window['gf_submitting_38'] = false;}else if(!is_redirect){var confirmation_content = jQuery(this).contents().find('.GF_AJAX_POSTBACK').html();if(!confirmation_content){confirmation_content = contents;}setTimeout(function(){jQuery('#gform_wrapper_38').replaceWith(confirmation_content);jQuery(document).scrollTop(jQuery('#gf_38').offset().top - mt);jQuery(document).trigger('gform_confirmation_loaded', [38]);window['gf_submitting_38'] = false;}, 50);}else{jQuery('#gform_38').append(contents);if(window['gformRedirect']) {gformRedirect();}}jQuery(document).trigger('gform_post_render', [38, current_page]);} );} );</script><script type='text/javascript'> jQuery(document).bind('gform_post_render', function(event, formId, currentPage){if(formId == 38) {} } );jQuery(document).bind('gform_post_conditional_logic', function(event, formId, fields, isInit){} );</script><script type='text/javascript'> jQuery(document).ready(function(){jQuery(document).trigger('gform_post_render', [38, 1]) } ); </script>