Cisco buys AI startup MindMeld

MindMeld ​is known for its Deep-Domain Conversational AI platform, which can capture domain knowledge on any application.

Cisco announced Thursday that it plans to acquire MindMeld, a San Francisco-based startup that's built a conversational AI platform for enterprises, for $125 million.

Founded in 2011 by Tim Tuttle, a former AI researcher from MIT and Bell Labs, MindMeld is known for its Deep-Domain Conversational AI platform, which can capture domain knowledge on any application.

The platform also offers broad vocabulary natural language understanding, knowledge graph indexing and question answering, dialogue management and dialogue state tracking, and large scale training data generation and management.

For Cisco, the acquisition is based on the idea that humans will some day interact with computing systems through a conversational interface, allowing us to simply speak to a device to make it accomplish a task.

"We've come a long way since the days of my silly first program on the TI 99-4a, but we're really still at the beginning of the beginning of human-computer interfaces," said Rowan Trollope, Cisco's SVP of IoT and Applications, in a blog post.

"Conversational interfaces are the next major step forward, and we're thrilled to have MindMeld and their CEO, Tim Tuttle, join us to usher in the next era of AI powered collaboration technology."

Cisco said the MindMeld team will form the new Cognitive Collaboration team within Cisco's IoT and applications group. Initially, Cisco said it plans to use MindMeld to add conversation interfaces to its collaboration portfolio, starting with Spark.

Cisco has been on an acquisition spree as of late, with MindMeld marking its third buyout so far this month. Cisco announced on May 2 that it was paying $610 million to buy SD-WAN startup Viptela. The San Jose, Calif.-based startup offers end-to-end network virtualization that allows for application aware routing, service chaining, and orchestration capabilities.

Three days later Cisco acquired key talent and technology from data analytics company Saggezza. Cisco also acquired AppDynamics in January this year in a deal worth $3.7 billion.

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