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Publicly traded human capital management software company Workday is announcing today that it has acquired Upshot, a startup that developed a mobile app that allowed users to make natural-language voice queries on data in customer-relationship management tools. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

Upshot picked up attention in 2013. Founders Thomas Kim and Joseph Turian, friends who met on their first day as freshmen at Harvard University, won the $1 million prize in a 2013 Salesforce hackathon. Salesforce did an audit after people questioned the eligibility of Upshot’s winning app and concluded that Upshot did in fact fairly win.

The Upshot acquisition, which went down in February, has given Workday engineers who are skilled in natural-language processing (NLP). Such technology can come in handy for many of Workday’s applications, including the ability to predict retention risk based on what people say about their skills, roles, and job titles, Dan Beck, senior vice president for technology products at Workday, told VentureBeat in an interview.

The team can help Workday build NLP into applications beyond its Talent Insights app, as well as applications for projects, procurement, accounts payable, and accounts receivable, Beck said.

Upshot cofounders Thomas Kim, left, and Joseph Turian.

Above: Upshot cofounders Thomas Kim, left, and Joseph Turian.

Image Credit: Workday

Workday is based in Pleasanton, Calif., with $787 million in revenue for the year that ended on Jan. 31 and 3,750 employees as of that date, according to the company’s most recent annual report.

Upshot had no customers and never generated revenue, Beck said, although it did participate in the Alchemist Accelerator last year. Along with Kim and Turian, Upshot developer Alex Nisnevich also joined Workday as a result of the deal.

Upshot is Workday’s third acquisition to date, following Cape Clear and Identified.

When Workday executives sat down with Upshot’s founders, they were impressed with the duo’s capabilities data science, data engineering, and managing skills — as well as their business sense, said Adeyemi “Ade” Ajao, a cofounder of Identified who is now vice president of technology product strategy at Workday.

A Workday blog post has more about the acquisition.

Also today, Workday is announcing the launch of a corporate venture capital fund, Workday Ventures.


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