Bekker's Blog

Blog archive

Look for New Conversational AI Resources from Microsoft After Acquisition

An acquisition this week by Microsoft should result in new resources for partners interested in building conversational artificial intelligence (AI) experiences.

Microsoft on Wednesday announced it had signed an agreement to acquire XOXCO, based in Austin, Texas. Like most of the dozen-plus acquisitions Microsoft makes each year, terms weren't disclosed, which usually indicates a fairly small company and a small team.

In a blog post about the deal, Lili Cheng, Microsoft corporate vice president for Conversational AI at Microsoft, described XOXCO as "a software product design and development studio known for its conversational AI and bot development capabilities." Cheng cited examples of XOXCO's previous work, including Howdy, a meeting scheduling bot for Slack; and Botkit, a set of development tools that is popular on GitHub.

"We have shared goals to foster a community of startups and innovators, share best practices and continue to amplify our focus on conversational AI, as well as to develop tools for empowering people to create experiences that do more with speech and language," Cheng wrote.

Given Microsoft's sizable internal investments over the last few years on the digital personal assistant Cortana, the Microsoft Bot Framework, natural language processing and other AI-related services, it's unclear from the brief blog post how much new capability XOXCO brings to the company. However, Cheng notes that Microsoft has partnered with XOXCO on projects over the last few years.

One area that will be interesting to watch is how XOXCO plays into Microsoft's ongoing effort to push Teams as a competitor to Slack. The XOXCO Web site is currently replete with references to Slack, and a $1.5 million funding round three years ago was all about developing for Slack.

As one of the early movers in the Slack commercial ecosystem, will XOXCO become a Microsoft effort to have a presence on that platform, or will the team's expertise be redirected to building bots, tools and add-ons for Teams exclusively?

Posted by Scott Bekker on November 14, 2018 at 12:15 PM


Featured

  • Windows Autopilot for HoloLens 2 Hits Preview

    Windows Autopilot, Microsoft's PC self-provisioning program, is now being tested for use with the company's mixed-reality headset, the HoloLens 2.

  • Signs Point to Microsoft Charging for Use of APIs

    There are indications that Microsoft is mulling charging customers for software that uses its application programming interfaces.

  • The 2020 Microsoft Product Roadmap

    From the next major update to Windows 10 to the next generations of .NET and PowerShell, here's what's on tap from Microsoft this year.

  • Microsoft Extends Azure Hybrid Benefit Licensing to Linux

    Microsoft has expanded its Azure Hybrid Benefit licensing program to include Linux servers, particularly Red Hat Enterprise Linux or SUSE Linux Enterprise servers.