Updated: Facebook confirms it is to buy Allen & Overy Fuse startup Bloomsbury AI
Facebook is buying Bloomsbury AI – one of the early stage companies currently resident in Allen & Overy’s incubator Fuse – according to a report from TechCrunch that has subsequently been confirmed by Facebook to Legal IT Insider.
Bloomsbury AI uses natural language processing to create virtual assistants that can be taught to read, reason and communicate (AI that Bloomsbury calls ‘Cape’), which Facebook is reportedly going to use as a part of its arsenal to tackle the growing problem of fake news. Cape allows developers to add question & answer functionality to websites and other documents.
Facebook’s press team contacted Legal IT Insider on 3 July to say: “The team behind Bloomsbury AI has agreed to join Facebook in London” and directed us to the following statement on Facebook Academics:
“We’re excited to announce that the team behind Bloomsbury AI has agreed to join Facebook in London. The Bloomsbury team has built a leading expertise in machine reading and understanding unstructured documents in natural language in order to answer any question. Their expertise will strengthen Facebook’s efforts in natural language processing research, and help us further understand natural language and its applications.
“The team will help us grow our AI efforts in London, joining a roster of strong engineering talent. We look forward to welcoming them to Facebook and we can’t wait to see what we build together.”
Bloomsbury AI, which was founded in April 2017, has an ambition to improve its AI to the point that it can answer more questions – even ones that require elements of reasoning and synthesis – so that it can eventually answer any question that requires reading better than a human.
TechCrunch speculates that Facebook could use Cape as a workplace tool for companies to discover content in documents, or on Facebook’s consumer offering as a way of significantly improving its search and knowledge-base functionality.
It has been reported by publications including TechCrunch and the Telegraph that Facebook will pay between $20m and $30m (£15m-£22m) to acquire the company in both cash and stocks.
Bloomsbury, which was founded by CEO Guillarme Bouchard (pictured left) and CTO Luis Ulloa (pictured top right), raised £1,360m in April 2017 and is backed b Fly.VC, Seedcamp, IQ Capital, UCL Technology Fund and government funded London Co-investment fund.
It was confirmed in April as one of Allen & Overy’s second cohort of companies to join Fuse, the magic circle firm’s law tech incubator located within its City premises.
Bloomsbury AI has yet to reply to requests for comment but we’ll keep you updated.