Google has recently acquired Onward, an AI-powered chatbot startup that creates a range of automated customer service and sales tools for business usage.

Whilst the terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, the company co-founders Rémi Cossart and Pramod Thammaiah, as well as CTO Aaron Podolny, will be joining Google.

Today, we’re announcing the next step on that journey — Onward is joining the Google family! With Google, we’ll be able to expand the reach of the technologies that power Onward. These core technologies are what got us excited in the first place, and we are excited to bring them to Google.

We already knew that Google was investing heavily in startups working on Assistant apps and hardware. This move is likely a bid to help increase the overall capabilities of Google Assistant and its core recommendation facilities.

This becomes more obvious when you consider that one of Onward’s biggest products was an AI-powered shopping tool called Agent Q. Agent Q worked as a virtual assistant providing product recommendations directly to customers. It’s almost clear to see how else this type of system could help with Google’s own Shopping system — potentially providing customers with direct advice from search.

But lately, Onward pivoted to work on customer service automation tools powered by AI. Onward’s solution could can be directly integrated into systems such as Zendesk, whilst simultaneously plugging into Salesforce and Hubspot to add leads, and even let Shopify customers track orders without ever needing to interact with a human sales advisor.

As the post on the Onward site reads: “Throughout this journey, we’ve remained focused on unlocking the magical experiences that are possible when computers understand the subtleties hidden in a user’s actions and messages.”

Google + Onward announcement

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Damien Wilde

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