Salesforce buys AI specialist MetaMind

Richard Socher
Richard Socher. Image: MetaMind

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5 April 2016 | 0

Salesforce.com’s automation efforts got a boost Monday with the news it has acquired AI start-up MetaMind.

Salesforce will integrate MetaMind’s technology into its own services for new marketing-automation and personalisation capabilities, according to a blog post from MetaMind founder Richard Socher (picture).

“We’ll extend Salesforce’s data science capabilities by embedding deep learning within the Salesforce platform,” Socher wrote.

Socher’s personal Web page now lists his title as chief scientist at the customer relationship management giant.

MetaMind’s products will be discontinued on 4 May for users of its free versions, and on 4 June for paid users. The company plans to continue its AI research, however, and will still pursue candidates for its open positions, Socher said.

Salesforce confirmed the deal but declined to provide further details.

MetaMind’s technology is based on deep-learning research done by Socher at Stanford, where he earned his PhD in 2014. The company launched that same year with $8 million in funding from Salesforce chairman Marc Benioff as well as Khosla Ventures.

Machine learning and artificial intelligence are hot technologies for new applications, and Microsoft, Google and Amazon have all made moves in this area, noted Frank Scavo, president of Computer Economics.

Microsoft, for instance, has made advances with Azure Machine Learning and Cortana.

“For Salesforce to keep up, it either needs to partner or acquire technology and people with these skills,” Scavo said. “MetaMind looks to me like Salesforce wants to buy its way into these capabilities.”

IDG News Service

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