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SkyPhrase, Yahoo’s latest buy, has ‘Siri competitor’ written all over it

Image Credit: ExactTarget

Yahoo’s acquisition train is showing no signs of slowing down.

The company announced today that it has acquired SkyPhrase, a natural language processing company that wants to do what Siri does better than Siri does it.

SkyPhrase, which was born out of Peter Thiel’s Theil Foundation, is focused on making computers better at understanding and acting on conversational human language. The company says that focus made it a good fit for Yahoo, which has the two things that every information startup needs: lots of data and even more users.

The acquisition tops off a particularly busy few months for SkyPhrase, which nabbed $350,000 from the Theil Foundation back in April to further its cause. That bet, it seems, was a good one.

Yahoo’s acquisition comes at a time when natural language processing is high on the minds of just about every tech giant. Google, for example, is making lots of progress with voice search in Google Now, and, via Siri, Apple has somehow managed to humanize smartphones in a way that only the scariest of science fiction movies have. There are even rumblings that Microsoft is trying its hand at the same ideas with its rumored “Cortana” app.

So you might say that now’s a pretty good time to be researching how to bridge the conversation gap between us and our devices.

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