Home Acquisition Microsoft hasn't given up on bots; acquires Wand Labs

Microsoft hasn’t given up on bots; acquires Wand Labs


After the buyout of LinkedIn, here’s another acquisition from Microsoft. The technology giant has acquired messaging app developer, Wand Labs, for an undisclosed amount. The deal is a part Microsoft’s strategy to strengthen its efforts in chatbots and Artificial Intelligence and developing its “conversation as a platform” offering. Something CEO, Satya Nadella introduced at the Build 2016 conference (for developers) in March.

The acquisition aims at bringing together human language and advanced machine intelligence to push the envelope for conversation driven technology. Wand’s board will join Microsoft’s Bing engineering and platform team.

Founded by Vishal Sharma in 2013, Wand Labs was only seven employees big. It used a messaging interface for integrating services (like accessing news and making plans with friends) within chat for users who had to tap in and tap out of apps that made for a fragmented experience. Post acquisition, it will now assist Microsoft in developing its own Bot Framework. Wand Labs’ natural language technologies will also extend the capabilities of Windows, Bing, Microsoft Azure and Office 365, particularly with intelligent agents and chat bots, said Microsoft.

In a blog post, David Ku, Corporate Vice President, Information Platform Group, Microsoft, said:

“Wand Labs’ technology and talent will strengthen our position in the emerging era of conversational intelligence, where we bring together the power of human language with advanced machine intelligence connecting people to knowledge, information, services and other people in more relevant and natural ways.”

“It will accelerate our vision and strategy for Conversation as a Platform,” Ku added.

This could help developers understand and adopt “conversation” as the new user interface and as a new platform to program. Just as Microsoft is foraying into a world of big data and connected gear as opposed to providing packaged software. These acquisitions should help Microsoft do the same.

It is not Microsoft’s first venture with bots, though. Earlier in March it had launched Tay on Twitter that made headlines for all the wrong reasons. The artificial intelligence-driven chatbot went rogue with anti-Semitic and racist rants, within less than a day of its launch. It later led to an apology from Peter Lee, Corporate Vice President at Microsoft Research, explaining what went wrong.

However, California-based Wand Labs, hasn’t fully utilized its conversation driven technology.The iOS and Android apps it built haven’t yet reached general availability, according to Techcrunch.

Albeit it is shutting down its services, Vishal Sharma, CEO, Wand Labs, believes the journey has “only begun”. He also stated:

“It’s an exciting time to be working in the area of semantics and conversation, an area that Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has highlighted as core to the future and calls Conversation as a Platform. I’m proud of the work my team has done and what we’ve already accomplished in this emerging space and I’m delighted to be joining a company that shares our passion and enthusiasm for this new era where conversation is the central focus. Making experiences for customers more seamless by harnessing human language is a powerful vision and one that motivates me and my team.”

Sushri Sahu
The left of all things right, Sushri Sahu is a journo of the tech-psyched world. The left of all things right, Sushri Sahu is a journo of the tech-psyched world. Economy and Enterprise are her keen interests. She holds huge love for everything French and fine in life.