The dearth of talent in the AI space is a critical shortage for many companies. The large tech companies that need this talent most have become increasingly acquisitive as they race to build the best AI teams. While their hiring strategies can fill some critical positions, acquiring a full team already showing strong progress in an area of interest is a much bigger prize.
The pricing of these acquisitions shows the great value these companies place on these teams, and this value is derived from the future value they believe this technology can provide to their businesses. The ability of AI to replace humans and scale personalisation to the millions of customers from the few can drive huge value and win over customers from competing services.
I expect to see this acquisition trend continue, as I don't see any signs that this under supply of top talent will change in the short term.
Nearly 140 private companies working to advance artificial intelligence technologies have been acquired since 2011, with over 40 acquisitions taking place in 2016 alone (as of 10/7/2016). Corporate giants like Google, IBM, Yahoo, Intel, Apple and Salesforce, are competing in the race to acquire private AI companies, with Samsung emerging as a new entrant this month with its acquisition of startup Viv Labs, which is developing a Siri-like AI assistant.