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Apple Just Acquired This Little-Known Artificial Intelligence Startup

May 13, 2017

Apple has acquired a data mining and machine learning company Lattice.io, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter.

Apple confirmed the acquisition exclusively to Fortune via telephone on Saturday, and provided the following statement via email: "Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans."

There isn't much information publicly available about Lattice, but according to the company's CrunchBase profile, the startup was born out a Stanford research project called DeepDive. The company's technology appears to use machine learning to parse through databases or the web to answer queries.

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Lattice was co-founded by Chris Re, a professor of computer science at Stanford, and Michael Cafarella, a professor of computer science at the University of Michigan. Cafarella was the co-creator of Hadoop, a widely used big data processing technology. Cafarella was also previously an engineer at telecommunications company TellMe Networks, which was bought by Microsoft in 2007 for $800 million.

According to this 2015 profile on Re, the professor's Deep Dive program is able to understand "dark data," which provides information within images or illustrations.

The company's technology is also similar to Google's Knowledge Graph (“goog”), which is the search giant's technology that understands relationships between people, places, and things, and it provide answers to questions like "What's the capital of California?"

One source familiar with the matter said the acquisition price was between $175 million and $200 million. Lattice had raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Madrona Venture Group and GV, the venture arm of Google-parent Alphabet.

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