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Tech Giants Hunt for AI Startups – And the Brains Behind Them


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Technology giants are opening their checkbooks to keep pace in the hot field of artificial intelligence, where some of the best ideas and most sought-after talent reside in small startups and academia.

Intel Corp. 's purchase of Israeli startup Habana Labs for $2 billion this month is the biggest AI deal in a year. Other tech giants, including Amazon.com Inc. and Microsoft Corp. , have made acquisitions in recent years to strengthen their ability to apply complex algorithms to improve the performance of products and services. Apple Inc. has snapped up 17 AI startups since 2013, according to market-data firm PitchBook.

Many of the deals are driven as much by buyers wanting to land talent as to acquire a specific product, says Oren Etzioni, who heads the Allen Institute for AI.

Apple's purchase in June of struggling self-driving startup Drive.ai was widely seen as a bid to snag its engineers, a common justification for deals across the tech world.

Securing the human brain power can also be a rationale for hefty premium prices.

From The Wall Street Journal
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