Cisco acquires conversational AI startup MindMeld for $125 million
Cisco announced that it is buying MindMeld for USD 125 million. Founded in 2011, MindMeld helps businesses to build conversational interfaces with cloud-based services.
MindMeld, originally called Expect Labs, was launched in 2012. At that time the startup wanted to build an iPad app that could listen in on your conversations and provide relevant contextual information. Since then the company has expanded its offerings to include a suite of APIs for parsing, reasoning about and generating language.
MindMeld had previously raised USD 15.4 million in venture capital financing from IDG Ventures, GV, Greylock Partners, Bessemer Venture Partners and Intel Capital, among others.
Conversational AI continues to be a hot space for M&A activity. Samsung paid about USD 215 million for Viv last year with the purpose of repackaging it into Bixby, its own personal assistant.
“MindMeld lets someone deploy an AI-powered conversational interface from start to finish,” Alexander Rosen, a partner at IDG Ventures told me in an interview. “Not many people outside of Amazon and Google have that.”
If Cisco is serious about software, AI is an indispensable core competency that forms the foundation for any and all future products. Cisco says that the MindMeld team will form the company’s Cognitive Collaboration team, a move that immediately evokes the aesthetic of IBM Watson’s cognitive computing group.
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