Founded by the developers of Apple’s Siri, Viv Labs is a startup working on creating a personal AI assistant that can understand and automate what a user wants. The Information is reporting that Google and Facebook have tried and failed to purchase the company within the past year.
Both companies were offering in the range of $100-200 million, but were rejected as Viv believes the key to winning the AI assistance race is by acting as a neutral portal for third-party developers. Late last year, the Wall Street Journal reported that Google was working on an AI-powered chat service where ‘chatbots’ would search the web and other sources of information to provide users with an answer. In their plan, third-party developers will be able to tap into the service and make their own bots.
Facebook’s M, which lives in the Messenger app, is already being tested in the Bay Area and has a more human component, but has the same concept. For both services to be popular with consumers, they will need third-party developers to plug into their platforms and provide consumers with services that both companies cannot.
Viv is leveraging on this fact and wants to act as an independent third-party for developers and services who do not want to be enslaved to any particular ecosystem. They want to create a sort of AI app store where third party developers can train the AI for a specific task. By doing the hard work of building an AI, other companies will simply be able to build an assistant layer on top of Viv.
The Information report notes how Facebook and Google are the most suited for this task due to the large amount of user data they have accessible to them. Viv ultimately has the grander ambition of being on more than just a messaging service on a smartphone, but also in appliances.