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Microsoft Acquires XOXCO in Latest Step Towards AI

16 November 2018

But companies also need to be careful with automated conversations, as the survey also found that while 43% of global consumers have engaged with a chatbot when contacting an organization in the past year, only 38% said their query had been completely resolved.

In a blog post announcing the acquisition, Lili Cheng, Corporate Vice-President for conversational AI at Microsoft, wrote that the purchase shows Microsoft is "continuing to realize (its) approach of democratizing AI development, conversation and dialog, and integrating conversational experiences where people communicate".

XOXCO was initially founded in 2009, though the company came into bot development in 2013. It creates cutting-edge experiences through software. The company created Howdy, the first bot for collaboration platform Slack that helps schedule meetings, and Botkit, a developer tool for building chat bots, apps, and custom integration which is available today to developers on GitHub, which Microsoft officially acquired in October.

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The plans for the acquisition were announced yesterday, and the sum was not disclosed, marking another piece in a relatively long string of AI acquisitions Microsoft has made in the past couple of years.

In 2015, it secured US$1.5 million to develop chatbots, which can perform productivity tasks such as allowing people to automatically chatbotse online meetings in their digital calendars.

It is being used in creation of virtual assistants, redesigning of customer interactions and using conversational assistants to help employees in communicating better.

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Today, Microsoft plans to use XOXCO's technology to improve the Microsoft Bot Framework, which now supports over 360,000 developers.

"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 emerging people to create experiences that do more with speech and language", the Microsoft Blog post read.

Microsoft has been making consistent efforts in the realm of conversational AI that have been more evident during the last six months.

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Microsoft has also acquired several other AI startups this past year, including Semantic Machines in May, Bonsai in July, and Lobe in September.

Microsoft Acquires XOXCO in Latest Step Towards AI