Partnerships / Acquisitions

Uber Looks To Buy AI Startup For Self-Driving Tech


Sources are saying that Uber wants to acquire Seattle startup Mighty AI.

Three sources told The Information that Uber was in “recent talks” to buy Mighty AI, which could help bolster the rideshare giant’s self-driving technology.

Mighty AI CEO Daryn Nakhuda declined to comment on the report, while an Uber spokesperson said “we generally don’t comment on acquisition rumors.”

The company — originally called Spare5 — was launched in 2014 out of Seattle-based VC Madrona Venture’s labs, a rival of Amazon’s Mechanical Turk program. Getty Images needed help with categorizing all of its photos with the help of people who can train artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms, and paired up with Spare5 from there, with IBM coming aboard for a chatbot for spectators at the 2016 Masters golf tournament.

The company eventually relaunched under its new name in 2017 after a $14 million funding round led by Intel Capital, Google Ventures and Accenture Ventures.

“What we like about Mighty AI is that, for a lot of our customers, the first step is annotating data — they need that before they can build on top of our chips and software for AI,” Ken Elefant, Intel Capital managing director for software and security, said at the time. “With Mighty AI, all of this annotation will happen at a much faster rate, which will help Intel customers deploy much more quickly.”

It has raised $27 million in funding to date, with backers also including Foundry Group, Madrona Venture Group, and New Enterprise Associates (NEA) .

Mighty AI lists 74 employees on LinkedIn, with additional offices in Detroit and Boston. Interestingly, the company’s Twitter and LinkedIn pages have gone quiet since mid-May.

“Today, companies’ data is highly proprietary, and it’s expensive to collect and annotate,” Nakhuda told GeekWire earlier this year after the company was nominated as a GeekWire Awards finalist. “We envision a world in which data is shared for the greater good to rapidly advance the development of intelligent applications. To that end, we are investing in a range of initiatives to increase the democratization of data.”


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