Hidden in the shadows of Microsoft's $26.2 billion purchase of LinkedIn sits another Redmond, California acquisition — Wand Labs, a tech startup that builds messaging apps based on artificial intelligence.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in a post explains what the acquisition means for Bing and how it accelerates the company's "Conversation as a Platform" strategy, which repackages Bing to support technology behind chat bots and a bot development framework.
The Wand Labs team, founded in 2013 by former Google VP of products Vishal Sharma, will join the Bing engineering and platform team to support work in machine learning and artificial intelligence. Wand's engineers are building natural language and AI messaging intelligence, which Microsoft will add to Bing.
Sharma spent seven years at Google, but also has experience with servers and storage at Sun Microsystems and Tandem Computers, according to his LinkedIn page.
David Ku, corporate VP of Microsoft's information platform group, explains in a post how the acquisition helps investments in Bing, Azure, Office 365, and Windows.
In June 2015, Wand Labs released a form D for $2.75 million in equity financing, according to one report, which explains the capital. The report also provides analysis of the fund raising, suggesting that it helps potential customers feel safer "to deal with a firm that is well financed.
The odds are higher that it will stay in the business. Second, this could attract other investors such as venture-capital firms, funds and angels. Third, positive PR effects could even bring leasing firms and venture lenders."
In this case Wand Labs apparently attracted Microsoft to the technology to build into Bing.