Networking giant Cisco recently announced plans to purchase yet another startup company. This time the IT leader has set its sights on MindMeld; a small company specializing in Artificial Intelligence. The company was founded in 2011 by Tim Tuttle, a former MIT Scientist. MindMeld’s innovative platform allows developers to create ‘Chat Bots’ also known as Virtual Assistants which have the ability to recognize and respond appropriately to human voices. The acquisition of MindMeld is going to cost Cisco $125 million and is expected to close during the fourth quarter of 2017. The acquisition is part of a larger plan by Cisco, which aims to incorporate MindMeld technology with a total of ten AI and new deep learning related patents into their portfolio, which will be utilized to help advance Cisco Spark as well as many other collaborative projects.
A few years back, MindMeld wanted to create an iPad application that could listen in to users’ conversation and generate contextual suggestions, akin to what Facebook is currently trying to achieve with its ‘M Virtual Assistant’ in the Messenger App. Since then, the company portfolio has expanded to include a series of APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) to help with analyzing and generating language.
In the years since MindMeld was founded, the startup managed to raise approximately $15 million and big household names, such as Google Ventures, Intel Capital, Samsung Ventures, USAA, IDG Ventures USA, Greylock Partners and Bessemer Venture Partners are amongst its investors.
MindMeld also made headlines in 2015, when it provided the technology used to power one of Spotify’s experimental features which enabled music enthusiasts the chance to discover and play new music. Now MindMeld is stepping into the enterprise sector and is ready to embark on an exciting new chapter.
Despite the steady flourish in the Artificial Intelligence technology market over recent years, Cisco’s Vice President of IoT and Applications, Rowan Trollope explained that the company decided to buy MindMeld after noticing the abundance of mediocre robot experiences out there on the market.
Once the acquisition is complete, the MindMeld team will form a new Cognitive Collaboration department under Trollope’s supervision. To begin with MindMeld’s platform will see a future at Cisco as a business videoconference tool used to detect topics of interest and inspire more effective collaboration between group members.
The MindMeld purchase is certainly not Cisco’s first venture into the AI and machine learning field, as it has already set up initiatives in areas that include security, analytics and collaboration. For example, the technology inside Cisco’s Stealthwatch routers and switches transforms the network into a complex sensor that can detect cyber-attacks anywhere on the network and dramatically improve the system’s threat defense. In regards to MindMeld, Cisco wants to delve deeper into the area of enterprise collaboration. With the rising popularity of voice-activated assistants like Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa, companies like Cisco are looking to integrate AI-driven assistants into business.
News of Cisco’s MindMeld acquisition comes shortly after the company announced that it would also be buying out Viptela; a startup that sells networking technology designed to allow companies to connect their branch offices to corporate data centers. Viptela, which was also founded by former Cisco engineers, will be purchased for the sum of $610 million. However, Viptela and MindMeld aren’t the only small business to be added to the giant Cisco AI takeover this year as the company also plans to take over AppDynamics, a small company which provides tools for monitoring performance.