Tech Overlook

Facebook buys Ozlo to boost its conversational AI efforts



Facebook has gone ahead and purchased Charles Jolley’s conversational AI startup Ozlo. Jolley, formerly Head of Platform for Android at Facebook, will not be returning to the company. The Ozlo team is expected to join Facebook to work on natural language processing challenges.

Ozlo launched with a consumer facing app back in October 2016. Jolley told me at the time that the conversational AI space was rapidly consolidating (Samsung had just bought Viv) and he was happy to run a service independent of the major tech giants. With today’s acquisition, Ozlo is no longer independent and the conversational AI space grows just a bit more consolidated.

In March, Ozlo launched a suite of APIs. One of the company’s key differentiators was its knowledge graph — its database of facts about the world necessary for demonstrating any sense of intelligence. Ozlo sold its knowledge layer to developers as a service.

That knowledge layer, in addition to an intent API and converse API, will be wound down in the wake of the acquisition, according to Facebook. The same will be true for the original, readily available, consumer bot.

“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.”

It’s unclear exactly what the Ozlo team will work on at Facebook. The Ozlo knowledge graph could find a home as a backbone for Facebook M. A number of recent acquisitions by large tech companies have been aimed at increasing the scale of such information repositories. Apple recently purchased Lattice Data to help convert unstructured data into a knowledge graph that can be reasoned across to deliver relevant answers to user questions.

Facebook declined to disclose the size of its purchase of Ozlo. The startup was previously backed by AME Cloud Ventures and Greylock Partners.



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