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Samsung to acquire AI startup Viv, created by makers of Siri

Dag Kittlaus, CEO and co-founder, Viv
Dag Kittlaus, CEO and co-founder, Viv

Marking its growing commitment towards the growing virtual personal assistant market Samsung Electronics said it has agreed to acquire Viv Labs, an artificial intelligence platform created by the makers of Siri.

Viv which debuted at Disrupt NYC in May 2016, was founded by Dag Kittlaus, Adam Cheyer and Chris Brigham in 2012. It raised over $22 million in funding by early 2015 and $30 million by early 2016.

As part of the acquisition Viv will continue to operate independently.

In the voice controlled digital assistant space Viv competes with Siri, Microsoft Cortana, Google Assistant, and Amazon’s Alexa.

Today, all the major firms are looking at artificial intelligence (AI) to enhance their products. And it is no different for Samsung which in the face of declining hardware sales now wants to transform itself into more of a soft-ware driven company. Last year, Samsung had made strategic investments in AI startup Vicarious. And in 2014, it bought a startup SmartThings, maker of mart-home controllers, for about $200 million.

“After nearly four years of development by one of the finest teams to ever work together in AI, Viv is well on our way to making our vision a reality. We’re enormously proud of how much we’ve achieved in so little time,” wrote Dag Kittlaus in a blog post.

He also affirmed how over the last two years they have been approached by interested partners who wanted to share their vision. “Samsung will drastically accelerate our vision. For us, the glaringly obvious advantage Samsung brings to our vision is scale,” he wrote.

Dag Kittlaus shared they “knew from day one ubiquity would be key.”

“Unlike other existing AI-based services, Viv has a sophisticated natural language understanding, machine learning capabilities and strategic partnerships that will enrich a broader service ecosystem,” said Injong Rhee, CTO of the Mobile Communications business at Samsung Electronics. “Viv was built with both consumers and developers in mind. This dual focus is also what attracted us to Viv as an ideal candidate to integrate with Samsung home appliances, wearables and more, as the paradigm of how we interact with technology shifts to intelligent interfaces and voice control.”

According to market intelligence firm Tractica total virtual digital assistant (VDA) revenue will grow from $1.6 billion in 2015 to $15.8 billion in 2021. forecasts that unique active consumer VDA users will grow from 390 million in 2015 to 1.8 billion worldwide by the end of 2021. During the same period, unique active enterprise VDA users will rise from 155 million in 2015 to 843 million by 2021.

Samsung’s Global Innovation Center spearheaded the acquisition for Samsung’s Mobile Communications business.

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