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CrowdFlower, a crowdsourced data-cleaning and tagging platform, has closed a fresh $10 million in funding in a round led by Microsoft Ventures, Canvas Ventures, and Trinity Ventures.

Founded out of San Francisco in 2009, CrowdFlower had previously raised $28 million, including a $12.5 million round back in 2014, but the company says it will use its cash influx to expedite the adoption of a new machine-learning product called CrowdFlower AI.

CrowdFlower will use a combination of humans and artificial intelligence to “make data useful” by helping teams organize their data more effectively at scale. For example, a company may have a large database of numbers and demographics, but some fields might be empty, incorrect, or incomplete — something that a human is best placed to fix. So when a company uploads its data into CrowdFlower and stipulates the rules, humans from around the world link in and do the labeling manually. From this, a machine-learning model can be created and, where the machine is confident about a label, automation kicks in. If the system is not sure, humans continue.

Ultimately, the platform’s designed to improve over time so that the more human-generated labels are fed in, the more intelligent it becomes. It’s worth noting here that the uploaded data can be anything from images and text to URLs and addresses.

CrowdFlower AI

Above: CrowdFlower AI

Microsoft’s involvement, through its Microsoft Ventures division, is consistent with the computing giant’s moves elsewhere in the A.I. realm. Last year, we reported on how Microsoft was using big data to predict traffic jams, and just a few months back it launched a new platform that’s seeking to improve A.I. using Minecraft.

“At Microsoft, we’re looking to create experiences for people and businesses where technology intelligently supports what they’re doing,” explained Nagraj Kashyap, corporate vice president at Microsoft Ventures. “CrowdFlower’s approach — combining human and machine intelligence to solve all types of unstructured data problems — aligns with that effort. We look forward to supporting them in their next phase of growth in the broader machine learning and A.I. market.”

From drug discovery and enterprise software through to customer service, predictive typing, and stock photography searches, artificial intelligence and machine learning have also emerged as key tools in the armory of many other major tech companies. And it’s something the folks at CrowdFlower are looking to emulate, by making A.I. smarts more accessible to every business that works with data.

“We’ve seen companies like Tesla and Uber build large data science teams and adopt A.I. and machine learning to solve billion-dollar problems like driverless cars,” added Lukas Biewald, founder and CEO at CrowdFlower. “But we wanted to bring A.I. and machine learning within the reach of every business, to attack million dollar problems such as classifying customer support tickets or generating customer insights from social data. With CrowdFlower AI, companies can now easily deploy machine learning models that are commercially viable at a much lower price point.”

CrowdFlower doesn’t advertise the pricing for its various tiers, but it does now have a Pro + AI plan for companies seeking to introduce machine learning models into their broader business.


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