Facebook is buying Ozlo, a small bot specialist based in Palo Alto, Calif. The news was disclosed on Ozlo’s web site.
Ozlo focuses on “conversational” bots, or pieces of software code that talk to users. Consumers use bots on web sites or phones to order take-out, ride services, among many other things. Some of Ozlo’s 30 employees will join the Facebook Messenger effort but Ozlo founder Charles Jolley—a Facebook (FB) alum—will not be among them, according to tech news site TechCrunch.
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Facebook, number 98 on this year’s Fortune 500 list, is pushing Messenger, its chat app, as a way for users to interact with outside services without having to leave the site. Keeping active users on the network is, of course, advantageous to Facebook (FB). The company says that two billion people use its site every month.
In April, Facebook said it would tie Messenger into music streaming services like Spotify and Apple (AAPL) Music
Bots, or chatbots, have become a battleground for tech giants vying for artificial intelligence (AI) supremacy, with Amazon (AMZN), Microsoft (MSFT), Apple, and others also pouring resources into them. If a company can get users using its bot as a gateway to online services anywhere, that company has a real advantage.
Customer orders and preferences become a rich data trove that helps the bot maker fine-tune its algorithms to offer better results.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Ozlo, founded three years ago, claims about 30 employees on its website. The company had raised about $14 million from Greylock Partners, Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang, and AME Cloud Ventures.