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Google acquires India’s Halli Labs, which was building AI tools to fix ‘old problems’

Some more M&A news in the world of artificial intelligence. Today it was announced that Google has acquired Halli Labs, a very young (its first public appearance was on May 22 of this year) startup based out of Bengaluru, India, that was focused on building deep learning and machine learning systems to address what it describes as “old problems.”

The company says it will be joining Google’s Next Billion Users team “to help get more technology and information into more people’s hands around the world.”

We are reaching out to Google to see if it can provide any more information. Halli announced the news itself earlier today in a short post on Medium, and Caesar Sengupta, a product management VP at Google, also confirmed the acquisition with a Tweet.

It’s not clear whether or not Halli Labs (“Halli” means village in Kannada, the company notes) was funded. The company’s founder, Pankaj Gupta, is a data scientist with an interesting history that includes running recommendation and personalization at Twitter and a role as CTO at now-defunct Indian Airbnb rival Stayzilla.

It’s also not clear how many more people were working at Halli Labs. We’re trying to find that out too.

The acquisition is important for a couple of reasons.

One is that it shows the ongoing interest by the largest tech companies in the world to double down on AI and its many facets, from software through to hardware, and pure research through to practical applications. Google has been one of the leaders in this field, snapping up companies like DeepMind in the UK and forging strong programs with educational institutions to tap into talent.

The other trend here is that we are continuing to see a significant amount of consolidation in the field of AI. A huge number of startups have been founded based around ideas like deep learning, neural networks, computer vision, natural language processing, and robotics, and while some of these will grow longer term as independent entities, the very biggest tech players are also serving as magnets to bring them together. Companies besides Google and its parent company Alphabet that are making acquisitions in AI include Baidu, Samsung, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook and Snap, among many others.

More to come.

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