Nearshore Americas

Microsoft Snaps Up Canadian Startup Maluuba to Bolster AI Portfolio

U.S. technology giant Microsoft has acquired Montreal-based artificial intelligence (AI) startup Maluuba, which specializes in deep learning.

Once the deal is closed, Yoshua Bengio, Maluuba’s expert in deep learning and head of the Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms, will start serving Microsoft as an adviser.

Launched in 2010 by students at the University of Waterloo, Maluuba creates programs that use natural-language processing, which helps computers understand dialogue and develop reasoning capabilities.

“Maluuba’s impressive team is addressing some of the fundamental problems in language understanding by modeling some of the innate capabilities of the human brain, from memory and common sense reasoning to curiosity and decision- making,” Microsoft has stated in a blog post.

Analysts say that the acquisition strengthens Microsoft, easing its task to challenge the growing dominance of Google and Salesforce in this sector. Perhaps, Microsoft learnt more about Maluuba’s expertise after its venture fund acquired stakes in Bengio’s startup Element AI.

Neither Microsoft nor Maluuba has disclosed financial details of the deal.

Going by Microsoft’s blog post, AI solutions of the future will look like an advanced form of data analytics. For an example, if you are searching through your organization’s data for a tax expert, you will ask an AI agent instead of trying to retrieve a document by keyword matching.

“The AI agent would be able to answer your question…. by having a deeper understanding of the contents of your organization’s documents and emails,” says the blog post written by Harry Shum, Microsoft’s executive vice president in charge of artificial intelligence.

Microsoft’s artificial intelligence division came into being only in September last year. Reports say about 5,000 people are working for it.

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Microsoft intends to retain all 50 Maluuba employees, including Pasupalak and co-founder Kaheer Suleman.

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Narayan Ammachchi

News Editor for Nearshore Americas, Narayan Ammachchi is a career journalist with a decade of experience in politics and international business. He works out of his base in the Indian Silicon City of Bangalore.

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