Appen Is Buying Figure Eight For Up To $300 Million

By Dan Anderson ● March 12, 2019

Appen, an Australia-based leader in human-annotated datasets for machine learning and AI, announced it has signed a definitive agreement to buy Figure Eight. Figure Eight is a machine learning software platform that uses highly automated tools to transform unlabeled text, image, audio, and video data into high-quality AI training data. Appen is going to pay $175 million up front and up to $125 million in 2020 based on 2019 performance.

Figure Eight’s innovative data annotation platform will be combined with the scale, quality, and language expertise of Appen’s leading global crowd in order to create a unique and end-to-end training data offering.

As a result, the unified companies will be strongly positioned to deliver the increasing volume, quality, and speed requirements for training data to support machine learning and artificial intelligence.

“The union of Appen and Figure Eight creates a unique, exciting and powerful opportunity for our customers,” said Appen’s Chief Executive Officer Mark Brayan. “We now have the best of both worlds: our highly efficient cloud management platform and scalable, skillful multilingual crowd, combined with Figure Eight’s innovative customer facing SaaS platform with ML-assisted annotation. Combined, we’ll meet and exceed our customers’ scale, speed and quality requirements.”

Figure Eight (previously known as CrowdFlower) was founded in San Francisco in 2007 and it has played a critical role in the artificial intelligence ecosystem as it delivered 325 million human judgments in 2018 alone. And Figure Eight also released a number of innovative capabilities to enhance its platform including machine learning-assisted data labeling and video object tracking — which is able to create high-quality training datasets up to 50 times faster than human labeling alone.

Appen is a public company that is listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX:APX) with offices worldwide. And the company successfully deploys its global crowd of more than 1 million skilled contractors in over 180 languages and more than 130 countries to support its global customer base — which includes eight out of the ten largest technology companies.

“We’re very excited to be joining Appen,” added Figure Eight co-founder Lukas Biewald. “I’m extremely proud of the team. This is a genuine validation of everything we’ve achieved and a great platform for our teams to combine and continue to do amazing things in AI.”

Figure Eight is going to operate largely independently as a division of Appen through the end of 2019. And beyond 2019, Figure Eight’s experienced team and technology will be integrated into Appen.