IBM announced Thursday that the company is investing $1 billion to provide its Jeopardy! champ computing system Watson its own business division and a new headquarters. Dubbed IBM Watson Group, the new business division will be located at 51 Astor Place in New York City’s “Silicon Alley” technology hub, and will be dedicated solely to the development and commercialization of cloud-delivered cognitive innovations.
About $100 million will go towards funding Watson-powered apps that are being developed by IBM’s recently launched ecosystem of start-ups. The business, which started out with a team of 27, will employ around 2000 professionals, including hundreds at the new headquarters.
The new IBM Watson Group will tap industry experts as well as people from IBM's Research, Services, Software and Systems divisions, who will identify potential markets where cognitive computing can make a difference, and evolve. The group will be spearheaded by Michael Rhodin, who most recently served as Senior Vice President of IBM Software Solutions Group.
Watson has been utilized in many big-data industries, such as finance, healthcare, banking, and more. But now with the financial backing of IBM, the newly formed group will focus on applying Watson's vast pool of knowledge to other areas of business, such as retail, travel, telecommunication, and more.