Update on 21st of September: A day later, Amazon has decided to offer further comment. A spokesperson for the company now says “Amazon did not acquire Angel.ai. We made an individual hire of Navid Hadzaad. His title is Product Lead, New Initiatives”. That’s seen Hadzaad update his LinkedIn profile again in the past 24 hours, too. Notably the word ‘bots’ is now missing from his new role at Amazon. It’s also unclear why Amazon didn’t have “anything further to share at this time” yesterday when I asked if it had acquired Angel.ai and was only willing to offer a denial 24 hours later. I stand by my original report but will update this post again if more information surfaces.
Original article below
It looks like Google, which yesterday acquired API.ai, a company that helps developers build conversational interfaces, isn’t the only major tech company hoovering up chat bot talent. TechCrunch understands that Angel.ai (formerly known as GoButler) has, at least partially, been acqui-hired by Amazon.
The e-commerce giant confirmed that Angel.ai co-founder and CEO Navid Hadzaad has joined the company. “I can confirm that Navid started at Amazon, and that his first day was yesterday. We don’t have anything further to share at this time,” an Amazon spokesperson told TechCrunch.
A quick check on LinkedIn confirms Hadzaad’s new job title: “Head of New Bot Products at Amazon”. I also understand that several other Angel.ai employees are joining or have offers from Amazon and that the company is also acquiring some or all of Angel.ai’s technology and data.
That said, this doesn’t look like much of a return for investors, if any, with Angel.ai having raised $8 million in Series A funding in July 2015. The round was led by General Catalyst Partners, with participation from Lakestar, Rocket Internet’s Global Founders Capital, Slow Ventures, BoxGroup, Ashton Kutcher and Guy Oseary’s Sound Ventures, and Cherry Ventures.
Originally called GoButler, the startup launched as a virtual assistant that let you request anything on-demand, but had since gone through several pivots, settling on offering natural language processing technology to third-parties.
It’s this chat bot expertise that Amazon appears be acquiring as it too tries to figure out what role, if any, bots are going to play in “conversational commerce,” as Hadzaad once described it.