With AI and Data Science rising to a whole new level, many global tech giants are looking to integrate these technologies into their product portfolio. While they work in-house to build AI/ML capabilities, the other popular way to go about it is to acquire startups that will provide them with the unique offerings that they are looking for.
Major global players such as Walmart Labs and Reliance have invested significant capital in the last two years to build up a strong AI and data science portfolio. The reason may be many such as building strong technical team, improved customer satisfaction and more.
This article lists the most popular acquisitions and acqui-hires of Indian AI startups in 2018 and 2019.
1| Reliance Jio Acquires Haptik
In one of the recent acquisitions by Reliance Jio, it bought 87 percent stake in AI startup Haptik in a ₹700 crore deal. Haptik is one of the leading chatbot platforms that build chatbot applications for consumers, publishers and enterprises across the globe. Founded in 2013, it had marquee clients like Coca-Cola, HDFC Life, Samsung, Amazon Pay among others. With the acquisition of Haptik, Jio wants to go big in the NLP space which is largely being used in a number of applications such as speech assistants, sentiment analysis and recommendation systems. As a part of the acquisition, RIL will hold about 87 percent stake in the company, with the rest with Haptik’s founders and employees. The Haptik team will continue to drive the growth of the business, including the enterprise platform as well as digital consumer assistants.
2| Reliance Acquires Reverie
Reliance Industries Investments & Holdings (RIIHL), a subsidiary of Reliance Industries acquired Bengaluru-based local language technology service startup Reverie Technologies to go big with language localisation. RIL invested ₹190 crores in Reverie to acquire its shares that will translate to close to 83.3 percent equity stake in the startup. Founded in 2010, Reverie is a cloud-based, language-as-a-service platform that helps apps and content go multilingual. With this acquisition, Reliance is looking to tap into the market by delivering their applications and content in local languages in real-time.
3| Reliance Acquires Embibe
Reliance bought 72.69 percent stake in online education platform Embibe in April last year. Touted to be one of the biggest transactions in Indian education and deep technology, the deal will give a majority stake in AI-based education technology provider. The company also said that it plans to invest $180 million in Embibe over the next three years that will be used in deepening its R&D work in AI in education, business growth, geographic expansion and more.
4| Walmart Labs Acquires Dataturks
Walmart acquired Bengaluru-based ML startup Dataturks, that was founded with an aim to help ML developers create datasets. Founded in 2018 by ex-Flipkart Executives Mohan Gupta and Gajendra Dadheech, it had added around 35 clients in its kitty from areas like healthcare and legal tech. By acquiring the startup, Walmart aims to make use of Dataturks’ ML capabilities and use it for various projects for the digital arm of the US-based major, Walmart stores. Their deep domain expertise in ML and large application development experience will help Walmart to drive further innovations in its various merchandising platforms such as catalogue quality, anomaly detection, search innovation and more.
5| Walmart Labs Acquires Int.ai
To strengthen its engineering team, Walmart Labs acquired Bengaluru AI and data analytics startup Int.ai. Founded in 2016, Int.ai has been on a mission to develop an AI-powered personal data analyst which can give insights that will impact business metrics. It had also built an enterprise data platform, which along with its analytics automation framework will bolster Walmart’s product innovation. Walmart had said that their expertise will be a great addition to their data analytics capabilities and that they are looking to build awesome customer experiences with this team
6| Airtel Acquires AuthMe
In October 2018, Airtel acquired Bengaluru-based startup AuthMe to strengthen its AI Portfolio. In the acqui-hire deal, AuthMe joined Airtel to be a part of Airtel X Labs in Bengaluru. Airtel has been working extensively to serve customers with innovative digital products and AuthMe will help Airtel in providing that. Airtel acquired the intellectual proprietary rights for two flagship solutions developed by AuthMe- Callup AI and Fintech OCR. Callup AI has created a chat and voice assistant that uses the power of AI to quickly and effectively resolve customer queries over email, chat and phone calls. Whereas Fintech OCR is an end-to-end Optical Character Recognition (OCR) pipeline built for financial documents.
7| Fractal Analytics acquired Final Mile
The acquisition was aimed at bringing AI and behavioural sciences together and was done for an undisclosed amount. Done in March 2018, it brings together the disciplines of data analytics, artificial intelligence and behavioural sciences. While Final Mile has a strong hold on behavioural science, Fractal brings strong data science and AI capabilities. The acquisition aimed at delivering greater value to clients over the long term.
8| Flipkart Acquires Liv.ai
Flipkart bought Liv.ai, an AI startup that converts speech to text in 0 Indian languages using these technologies. Founded by former IIT graduates Subodh Kumar, Sanjeev Kumar and Kishore Mundra in 2015, the deal was closed at an undisclosed amount. During the acquisition, Flipkart made it clear that it will continue to invest heavily on new technologies, especially in areas such as artificial intelligence and machine learning and indicated that it can make bigger acquisitions in the coming years. As a part of the deal, Live.ai integrated into Flipkart’s business unit, which works on voice technology to build capabilities around conversational shopping. Liv.ai’s technology can also be potentially used in areas such as transactions, payments, customer support, and in its logistics arm, eKart.
9| Zoho acquires ePoise
Earlier in March this year, Zoho Corporation acquired ePoise, a startup founded by Sachin Agrawal and Bishan Singh in 2013, and is a hiring automation product start-up. The acquisition which was done for an undisclosed amount creates an opportunity for Zoho to generate new sources of revenue by harnessing the power of AI. Zoho Corporation provides a suite of SaaS applications and online productivity tools and the combination of Zoho’s global footprint and depth of product portfolio and ePoise product capability and talent will add value to Zoho’s customers.
10| Swiggy Acquires Kint.IO
The online food delivery service, Swiggy acquired Kint.IO, a Bengaluru-based AI start-up to strengthen their foothold in the consumer app market. Founded in 2014, Kint.IO applies deep learning and computer vision to object recognition in videos, which is one of the things that Swiggy is looking to build. This acquisition comes as a strategic move by Swiggy to consolidate its position in the highly-competitive food delivery market in India. With the acquisition, Swiggy is looking to boost its computer vision technology and offer superior consumer experience.