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Apple has acquired Turi, a machine learning software startup. The startup formerly went by the names GraphLab and Dato.

Apple provided no information other than its standard boilerplate message for confirming acquisitions. “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans,” an Apple spokesperson told VentureBeat in an email. (Hat tip to Geekwire for breaking the news.)

Carlos Guestrin, cofounder and chief executive of the startup, serves as Amazon professor of machine learning at the University of Washington. Amazon has brought on machine learning talent in the years since 2012, when Guestrin got the position. The startup employed some former Microsoft employees, so it’s fascinating to see Apple acquire it.

Apple has acquired several other machine learning startups recently, including Emotient, Perceptio, and VocalIQ.

Turi’s competitors included Databricks, H2O, and Neo4j, among others. But because Turi has added artificial intelligence into its technology, it faced competition in that area as well.

Turi’s investors included Opus Capital Ventures, Vulcan Capital, Madrona Venture Group, and NEA. The startup was founded in 2013 and had its headquarters in Seattle. Customers included Adobe, Automattic, ExxonMobil, Pandora, PayPal, and Zillow.

The SFrame engine of the GraphLab Create software, written mostly in C++, is available on GitHub under a BSD license. GraphLab Create in turn was based on the GraphLab PowerGraph software, which got its start in 2009 at Carnegie Mellon University.


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