Appen buys Figure Eight for $300m to form AI data annotation powerhouse

Data annotation firm announces acquisition of San Francisco-based startup to deliver training data with "increasing volume, quality and speed requirements to support ML and AI"


Appen Limited has announced that it will acquire San Francisco-based Figure Eight Technologies in an AU$340m ($300m) deal that will bring the two data annotation companies together to effectively train AI and machine learning (ML).

Appen – which is based in Sydney – has stated that Figure Eight's ML software platform, which uses automated tools to create AI text, image, audio and video training data, will be "highly complementary" to its own platform which provides human-annotated datasets for ML and AI. Together, the companies will be aim to deliver training data that can keep up with current AI and ML models.

"This acquisition combines the scale, quality and language expertise of Appen's leading global crowd with Figure Eight's innovative data annotation platform to create a unique, end-to-end training data offering," stated Appen in a blog post announcing the acquisition. "The unified business will be strongly positioned to deliver the increasing volume, quality and speed requirements for training data to support ML and AI."

Figure Eight (formerly CrowdFlower) was founded in San Francisco in 2007 and has delivered 10+ billion human judgments so far. Founded in 1996, Appen has focused on capturing and enriching a number of data types, including speech, text, image and video with expertise in more than 180 languages.

On the acquisition, Mark Brayan, CEO of Appen, commented: "We now have the best of both worlds: Our highly efficient cloud management platform and scalable, skilful, 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."

Lukas Biewald, co-founder of Figure Eight, added: "We're very excited to be joining Appen. 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."

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