Exclusive: Google to Buy Artificial Intelligence Startup DeepMind for $400M
January 26, 2014,
Google is shelling out $400 million to buy a secretive artificial intelligence company called DeepMind.
After Re/code inquired about the deal, Google confirmed that it was happening but declined to specify the price.
Based in London, DeepMind was founded by games prodigy and neuroscientist Demis Hassabis, Shane Legg and Mustafa Suleyman.
This is in large part an artificial intelligence talent acquisition, and Google CEO Larry Page led the deal himself, sources said. According to online bios, Hassabis in particular is quite the brain, a child prodigy in chess who was later called “probably the best games player in history” by the Mind Sports Olympiad.
DeepMind has just a landing page for a website, on which says it builds learning algorithms for simulations, e-commerce and games. Profiles on LinkedIn indicate the company is about three years old.
Sources said Founders Fund is a major investor in DeepMind, along with Horizons Ventures. Skype and Kazaa developer Jaan Tallin was an investor and advisor (not a founder, as we initially described him).
Update: Though DeepMind may not have been a household name in general tech, sources in the artificial intelligence community described the company as a formidable force in recruiting in the space. One source said at least 50 people were on the team, with more than $50 million in funding, and called DeepMind “the last large independent company with a strong focus on artificial intelligence,” having competed with companies like Google, Facebook and Baidu for talent.
Multiple sources said the company was developing a variety of approaches to AI, and applying them to various potential products including a recommendation system for e-commerce.