Data-crunching startup Lattice Data has been acquired by Apple, as the battle for machine learning talent continues between big tech companies.
A source familiar with the company confirmed the deal, first reported by TechCrunch and sort-of confirmed by Apple with its standard acquisitions-related line: “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.” TechCrunch reported that the deal cost Apple around $200 million.
That’s the same amount of money that Apple shelled out for Seattle-based machine learning startup Turi, which was led by University of Washington computer scientist Carlos Guestrin and was acquired last summer.
Apple is using the Turi acquisition to create a base of talent around artificial intelligence and machine learning in the Seattle area, where it has been growing its footprint.
Interestingly, Lattice also has some Seattle roots.
While based in Menlo Park, three of its founders — Christopher Re, Raphael Hoffmann, and Mike Cafarella — all went through University of Washington’s computer science program. The company was formed around a research project at Stanford called DeepDive, and it counts among its investors Madrona Venture Group. The Seattle venture capital firm also was a backer of Turi, so this marks the second positive outcome for the VC firm in the AI/ML arena.
Lattice Data, which had reportedly raised $20 million from Madrona, GV and InQTel, says its technology can organize unstructured data, like text and images, as “structured data” that can be measured and analyzed.
It’s just another sign of the boom in artificial intelligence and machine learning talent, as companies like Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Uber fight over the relatively small number of experts in the field. If you’re a computer science student trying to figure out what to study, AI and machine learning are the quickest paths to the big money right now.