Cisco today announced plans to acquire AI startup MindMeld for $125 million.
MindMeld can create AI-powered conversational interfaces. MindMeld tech and its 10 patents surrounding AI and deep learning will be used to improve Cisco Spark and other Cisco collaboration products.
The MindMeld platform for the creation of bots and voice-powered assistants launched last fall. The MindMeld API is currently being used by more than 1,200 companies around the world. Customers and investors include Google, Samsung, Intel, Telefonica, Liberty Global, IDG, USAA, Uniqlo, Spotify, and In-Q-Tel, a CIA investment fund.
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Cisco decided to acquire MindMeld, a company that’s been called “Siri on steroids,” because many bot experiences today are disappointing, IoT and applications VP Rowan Trollope wrote in a blog post today.
“The rise of messaging apps, and the conversational bots which have followed, have given us a tremendous number of bots which are impressively bad at natural language conversation. They do OK with canned responses, but try to have a semi-unstructured conversation to get them to do something and the experience tends to be poor, frustrating and decidedly non-human,” he wrote. “Bringing the MindMeld team to Cisco is a giant leap forward in helping our customers experience the next generation of interactive, conversational interfaces.”
Cisco collaboration software competition includes other enterprise chat players including Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts Chat, and Slack. The $125 million acquisition in cash and assumed equity awards is expected to close by Q4 of 2017.