It’s a good time to be in NLU

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Like… for the next minute — and if you’re ready for an exit.

It was announced yesterday that Amazon picked up the founder of, just two days after Google announced its acquisition of API.AI. While the two acquisitions are by no means apples to apples (tools/IP vs just people), the two coming back to back — while potentially a coincidence — could signal an arms race to come up with the best and brightest AIs.

In the end, the value that Amazon or Google will extract from these acquisitions will depend on how much it can focus these people or technologies to enhance their already gargantuan revenue engines. For Amazon, this means getting people to purchase more faster. For Google, it’s more clicks or touches or referrals to ads.

Free NLUs (“free” as in freedom rather than beer) are fewer in number. There’s Houndify and then there a number of smaller ones that are out there. The rest belong to the giants — IBM has Watson/Alchemy, Google has three (Parsey McParseface, Cloud Natural Language API, and now API.AI), Microsoft has Bing Speech, Amazon has, Nuance is Mix.nlu, and Facebook has Wit.AI.

We’ll probably see more consolidation and purchases of smaller players in the coming months as the wars heat up.

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