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Microsoft buys Wand Labs to enhance chat bots

By Shawn Knight
Jun 16, 2016
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  1. After scooping up LinkedIn earlier this week for $26.2 billion, Microsoft on Thursday announced it has acquired messaging app developer Wand Labs. Financial terms of the deal were not revealed.

    In a post announcing the purchase, David Ku, corporate vice president of the Information Platform Group at Microsoft, said the acquisition accelerates its vision and strategy for Conversation as a Platform which CEO Satya Nadella first introduced at Build 2016 back in March.

    Specifically, Ku said Wand Labs’ technology and talent will strengthen its position in the emerging era of conversational intelligence where they bring together the power of human language with advanced machine intelligence to connect people to knowledge, information, services and other people in more relevant and natural ways.

    It’s an area that Microsoft can certainly use help in if a recent experience is any indicator.

    Earlier this year, the Redmond-based company released an AI chat bot called Tay via existing communication apps like Kik, GroupMe and Twitter. Modeled after a 19-year-old American girl, the experiment was a complete disaster as the collective Internet managed to corrupt the innocent bot in less than 24 hours.

    Vishal Sharma, who founded Wand Labs in 2013, said he was proud of the work his team has done and what they’ve accomplished thus far, adding that he’s delighted to be joining a company that shares their passion and enthusiasm.

    Sharma did confirm that Wand Labs’ existing service will be shutting down.

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