The fourth AI-related company Microsoft has purchased this year, XOXCO was founded in 2009 and has been working on conversational AI bots since 2013. It was responsible for the creation of Howdy, the first commercially available bot for Slack that helps schedule meetings, and Botkit, which provides the development tools used by conversational bot developers on GitHub.

“Over the years, we have partnered with XOXCO and have been inspired by this work,” says Lili Cheng, Microsoft Corporate Vice President, Conversational AI. “We have shared goals to foster a community of startups and innovators, share best practices and continue to amplify our focus on conversational AI, as well as to develop tools for empowering people to create experiences that do more with speech and language.”

Microsoft has stated that it envisions a world “where natural language becomes the new user interface, enabling people to do more with what they say, type and input, understanding preferences and tasks and modeling experiences based on the way people think and remember.” Over the last six months, it has made several strategic acquisitions to accelerate the pace of AI development:

  • Semantic Machines (May) – “brought a revolutionary new approach to conversational AI”
  • Bonsai (July) – “to help reduce the barriers to AI development by combining machine teaching, reinforcement learning and simulation”
  • Lobe (September) – “has created a simple visual interface empowering anyone to develop and apply deep learning and AI models quickly, without writing code”
  • GitHub (October) – “demonstrates our belief in the power of communities to help fuel the next wave of bot development.”

“Our goal is to make AI accessible and valuable to every individual and organization, amplifying human ingenuity with intelligent technology,” says Cheng. “To do this, Microsoft is infusing intelligence across all its products and services to extend individuals’ and organizations’ capabilities and make them more productive, providing a powerful platform of AI services and tools that makes innovation by developers and partners faster and more accessible, and helping transform business by enabling breakthroughs to current approaches and entirely new scenarios that leverage the power of intelligent technology.”

Details of the acquisition were not disclosed.


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