Microsoft will 'tear down app walls' with Wand Labs acquisition

Microsoft: bot experiment Tay resulted in racist tweets
Microsoft: bot experiment Tay resulted in racist tweets

Microsoft has acquired Wand Labs, a California-based messaging start-up, to boost its Siri rival Cortana.

Days after announcing it would shell out $26bn for LinkedIn, Microsoft has continued its acquisition spree, though in this instance it is likely a talent acquisition.

Wand Labs describes its mission as to "tear down app walls" by integrating "services" into its chat platform – otherwise known as chatbots.

It was founded three years ago by Vishal Sharma, a Google veteran who crucially worked for Google's intelligent assistant, Google Now.

In March, Microsoft announced its vision for bots as the future of online conversation. CEO Satya Nadella described bots as effectively the new version of apps, with users able to have conversations.

A week earlier, Microsoft's chatbot Tay had launched on Twitter but shortly began tweeting racist updates in response to user prompts. 

David Ku, corporate vice-president of Microsoft's information platform group, wrote of the acquisition: "The Wand team’s expertise around semantic ontologies, services mapping, third-party developer integration and conversational interfaces make them a great fit to join the Bing engineering and platform team, especially with the work we’re doing in the area of intelligent agents and chat bots."

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