Appen to acquire US based Figure Eight for $300mn

By Nicole Paton

San Francisco-based software company Figure Eight will be purchased by Appen, an Australian provider of high-quality, human annotated datasets for machine learning and artificial intelligence. The deal will see Appen acquire 100% of Figure Eight for an initial cash consideration of US$175mn, with an additional payment of up to $125mn to be made in 2020, based on previous performance.

Both companies utilise a business model which relies on crowdsourced labor pools to annotate data in order to train artificial intelligence and machine learning software. Figure Eight is the provider of a best in class machine learning software platform, which uses highly automated tools to transform unlabeled text, image, audio, and video data into high-quality AI training data.

Appen will use its crowd of over 1mn contractors, who work across over 130 countries and in 180 languages in conjunction with Figure Eight’s data platform to better serve its global customer base, which contains eight of the world’s 10 largest technology companies.

“The union of Appen and Figure Eight creates a unique, exciting and powerful opportunity for our customers,” said Mark Brayan, Appen’s Chief Executive Officer. “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.”

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“We’re very excited to be joining Appen,” said Lukas Biewald, co-founder of Figure Eight. “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.”

Until the end of 2019, Figure Eight will continue to function as a mostly independent entity, in order to continue to serve existing customers. In 2020, the companies have announced that a more significant integration will be put into effect.

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