Facebook acquires AI chatbot startup Ozlo

By : |August 1, 2017 0

Facebook has acquired AI startup Ozlo to help Messenger build out a more elaborate virtual assistant for users. Though the terms of the deal were not disclosed, as part of the acquisition, Facebook will receive Ozlo’s tech and a majority of its team of about 30 employees, and Ozlo will shut down its apps and API services, according to TechCrunch.

“1.2 billion people around the world use Messenger to connect with the people and businesses they care about,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. “We’re excited to welcome the Ozlo team as we build compelling experiences within Messenger that are powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning.”

Last year, Ozlo was launched with a consumer-facing app in October. While Ozlo initially focused on helping users sift through restaurant listings in a conversational format, it eventually expanded to include restaurants that serve foods for people with strict dietary restrictions, weather forecasts, and more local business services like movie listings.

“When we started Ozlo, we saw a tremendous explosion of on-the-go communication. We wanted to build a new way for people to connect with each other, gather information and discover services. Our world-class team has built a knowledge graph containing over 2 billion entities and created amazing AI technology that uses this data to understand real-world nuances,” Ozlo writes on its website.

A demo on an archived version of the Ozlo site (before Monday’s acquisition was announced) shows a user typing in a query about the cheapest way to stream a particular TV show, followed by Ozlo’s response, in natural language, proposing various viewing options. This kind of virtual assistant feature, similar to Apple’s Siri and Google’s Assistant, is something Facebook has sought to do with its M assistant.

Ozlo was founded in 2013 by a former Facebook head of product, Charles Jolley and has raised $14 million from a number of investors, including Greylock.

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