Google today said it is acquiring Kaggle, an online service that hosts data science and machine learning competitions, confirming what sources told us when we reported the acquisition yesterday.
The company made the announcement at its Google Cloud Next conference this morning in San Francisco, while not disclosing the terms of the acquisition. But it’s not all that surprising that Google would want to snap it up. With hundreds of thousands of data scientists on the platform, it would give Google the immediate ability to broaden its reach within the AI community. As it increasingly goes head-to-head with Amazon on the cloud computing front, it’s going to need as much of an edge as it can get.
This, too, will help Google get its brand more entrenched within the data science community — though it’s already a staple thanks to its projects like TensorFlow. Google is facing increasing competition as the AI space breaks into verticals, like autonomous driving and deep learning, opening up holes that smaller and larger companies can exploit. That could theoretically remove Google from the conversation as the company with the best AI operations, which is known for watershed AI moments like beating the Go world champion.
Buying Kaggle, and its mindshare within the community, will also probably help with recruiting. Google needs to ensure it keeps snapping up the best talent that specializes in deep learning, competing with other companies like Pinterest (which focuses on visual search). Even if this isn’t a more specialized tech acquisition, it means that Google is broadening its focus to explore more perpendicular approaches to ensure its dominance in AI.