Although the year 2020 started with a crisis, the technology landscape has drastically gained its momentum, and artificial intelligence has played a crucial role amid this pandemic. And that’s why the majority of companies are trying to get their hands on this technology, either by hiring AI and analytics experts or by acqui-hiring AI startups.
Every year, many AI companies get acquired, especially the promising startups that get gobbled up by large tech companies in order to expand their AI capabilities. Similarly, this year also saw many exciting mergers and acquisition in the AI space, despite the COVID pandemic.
Here are the top AI acquisitions of 2020, so far — in random order:
Apple Acquired Xnor.ai
In January 2020, Apple announced that the company had acquired an edge-based AI startup — Xnor.ai for a reported $200 million. The company, Xnor.ai, employs machine learning and image recognition tools for delivering AI capabilities on low-resource edge devices and has been one of the promising AI companies to acquire. The acquisition by Apple was an attempt to direct its efforts towards edge computing to keep user information more private and speed up processing. Not only edge-based computing brings back the data from the cloud to the device, improving the response times, but also allows for faster programs that would use significantly fewer data.
NVIDIA Bought Mellanox
In April 2020, NVIDIA announced the completion of its acquisition of Mellanox Technologies, an Israeli-American supplier of computer networking products for an amount of $7 billion. An acquisition which was initially announced in March 2019, was delayed by a year to get approval from all necessary authorities in order to proceed. With this acquisition, NVIDIA claimed to merge the expertise of both companies to address the challenges of increasing global demand for consumer internet services and the application of artificial intelligence to accelerate data science right from the cloud to edge and robotics. Further, this deal will enable customers to achieve higher performance, better utilisation of computing resources and reduced operating costs.
Amazon Bought Zoox
In June, this year, Amazon announced its acquisition of autonomous driving startup — Zoox. Founded in 2014, Zoox has already raised nearly $1 billion of funding to develop autonomous driving technology to provide a full-stack solution for ride-hailing. With this acquisition, Amazon aimed to build its position in the self-driving industry. Along with this, Amazon has also been heavily investing in developing drones or autonomous delivery robots to enter the robot delivery game. With Zoox, Amazon will utilise the company’s autonomous technology in its delivery process, while offering massive scale and resources to the startup to develop its vision.
Snap Acquired AI Factory
Snapchat’s parent company, Snap, earlier this year, in January, announced their acquisition of a Ukrainian computer vision and AI-based startup — AI Factory. The company has been known to work with AI Factory to build its Snapchat’s animated selfie-based video feature. According to reports, the company has been acquired with a reported amount of $166 million to boost the augmented reality features for Snapchat as well as its eyeglasses, Spectacles. Interestingly, the company, AI Factory, was co-founded by Victor Shaburov, who has been Snap’s director of engineering but left in May 2018 to found AI Factory.
Accenture Acquires Byte
Mid of this year, in May 2020, Accenture has also acquired a big data analytics company — Byte Prophecy, in order to address the increasing demand of their customers for enterprise-scale artificial intelligence and digital analytics. With buying Byte Prophecy, Accenture aims to improve the speed and agility of delivering advanced analytics and AI solutions to its enterprise customers. With Byte Prophecy’s technology and consulting skills, along with its client-centric innovation culture, Accenture aims to add nearly 50 data science and data engineering experts, with a particular focus on insight automation.
Brillio Acquires Cognetik
In an attempt to increase analytics capabilities, Brillio, a digital technology consulting and solutions company, in July 2020, announced the acquisition of Cognetik. With the addition of this data and insights company, Brillio aims to strengthen its analytics services for its customers. The capabilities of Cognetik in customer and marketing analytics and experience within the Adobe ecosystem will also enable Brillio to provide advanced industry solutions for personalisation and omnichannel experiences. Furthermore, the delivery presence of Cognetik in Romania will allow Brillio to expand its global delivery capabilities and hire skilled talent in the EU continent and service clients in development centres outside of India.
Tech Mahindra acquires Zen3 Infosolutions
Last but not least, in February 2020, Tech Mahindra also announced buying of Zen3 Infosolutions, a US-based AI company, for $64 million. According to the deal, the Indian subsidiary was acquired by Tech Mahindra, India, whereas the Tech Mahindra, US acquired the Zen3 Infosolution in America. The deal was done all in cash and aimed at advancing Tech Mahindra’s AI abilities with Zen3’s expertise in software product engineering, DevOps testing, machine learning, AI and analytics. With similar acquisitions over the years, Tech Mahindra has been showing promising capabilities in enhancing its services in the AI industry with continuous acquisitions of AI-based firms.
Cisco Acquired ThousandEyes
In May, this year, the networking behemoth, Cisco systems announced its purchase of ThousandEyes, a network intelligence company headquartered in San Francisco. Reported of $1 billion, from an undisclosed source, the deal was a part of Cisco’s acquisition spree to expand its cloud portfolio. According to the release, the company will be a part of Cisco’s Networking Services run by Todd Nightingale. The deal took place amid COVID pandemic, thus was done online to address the future where the internet is playing a crucial part of a business’s IT strategy. Furthermore, this deal will remove the delineation between public and private networks.
Microsoft Acquired Softomotive
May, this year, Microsoft also made an announcement of acquiring UK-based robotic process automation Softomotive. With this deal, the tech giant stated that it would be using the company’s robotic desktop automation tool WinAutomation and ProcessRobot for building software robots and enterprise RPA platforms. The announcement was made at Microsoft’s virtual event for this year where the company claimed to build Softomotive’s connectors for applications from SAP, as well as legacy terminal screens and Java. Softomotive’s despot automation tools will also provide customers with additional options for anyone who can build a bot and automate Windows-based tasks and enable RPA connectivity to various new apps and services.
Also Read: Why Microsoft Acquired An RPA Company?
Intel Bought Startup Moovit
May 2020, Intel bought an Israeli smart-transit startup — Moovit, for approximately $900 million. After Moovit’s popularity for providing real-time updates to ride-sharing service users, the chipmaker giant decided to integrate it. But, the company will now push Intel’s Mobileye to become a complete mobility provider, including robotaxi services — though remaining an independent subsidiary. The company previously already did a $50 million investment round in Moovit in 2018, which with this acquisition will enhance the safety vision technology, which is critical for driverless vehicles.
Also Read: Why Intel Acquired Moovit
Accenture Acquired Mudano
Earlier this year, in Feb, before acquiring Byte Prophecy, Accenture purchased Mudano, which is a UK-based strategic data consultancy firm. The acquisition of the company was aimed at enhancing Accenture’s analytics, data and artificial intelligence capabilities, and will join its applied intelligence unit employing data scientists, data engineers and AI professionals. Accenture has been known for its acquisition-based growth structure, whereby bringing in new talent and capabilities, the company focuses on having organic growth.
ServiceNow Purchased Loom Systems
One of the initial acquisitions of the year, in Jan 2020, ServiceNow announced its acquisition of Israel-based AIOps company — Loom Systems. Founded in 2015, purchase of Loom Systems will help ServiceNow to expand its AIOps Coverage. Further, the deal aims at bringing together the AI innovations of Loom Systems along with ServiceNow’s AI Ops capability to help customers prevent IT issues.
Appian Acquired Novayre Solutions
In an attempt to create a one-stop-shop for automation, with best-in-class solutions for workflow, artificial intelligence and RPA, Appian bought RPA company Novayre Solutions. Novayre Solutions SL is the developer of the Jidoka RPA platform, which is currently the highest-rated RPA software on Gartner Peer Insights (>50 reviews) making Appian massively benefitted with the deal. Appian’s first-ever acquisition will extend its lead in low-code automation by adding RPA capabilities. Appian claims to develop end-to-end processes where humans, robots, and artificial intelligence can coexist together in a coordinated way.