Today Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President of Conversational AI Lili Cheng announced that the company is acquiring Austin-based chatbot startup XOXCO. XOXCO is a software product design and development studio that is known for developing AI with conversational capabilities.
Cheng pointed out that conversational artificial intelligence is quickly becoming a way in which businesses engage with employees and customers whether it is creating virtual assistants or redesigning customer interactions. Gartner’s data says that conversational AI will be a supported user experience for more than 50% of large consumer-centric enterprises. And Microsoft envisions a world where natural language will become the new user interface.
XOXCO is known for creating Howdy, which is a commercially available bot for Slack that is used for scheduling meetings. And XOXCO also built Botkit, a platform of developed tools used by hundreds of thousands of developers on GitHub. Microsoft has partnered with XOXCO over the years so this acquisition made sense.
“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,” said Cheng. “The Microsoft Bot Framework, available as a service in Azure and on GitHub, supports over 360,000 developers today. With this acquisition, we are continuing to realize our approach of democratizing AI development, conversation, and dialog, and integrating conversational experiences where people communicate.”
In the last few months, Microsoft made several acquisitions that will accelerate its AI development initiatives. This includes the acquisition of Semantic Machines in May, Bonsai in July, and Lobe in September.