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Filed under: Acquires Deep Learning Startup MetaMind

Marc Benioff, the Salesforce CEO, had been an investor.

Cloud business software company has acquired MetaMind, a startup focused on artificial learning that had been funded by Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and venture capital firm Khosla Ventures.

Terms were not disclosed, but it has all the markings of an “acqhire” sort of deal. Founder and CTO Richard Socher announced the deal in a post on the MetaMind website. Socher says on his personal website that his new title is Chief Scientist at Salesforce.

MetaMind’s area of expertise is deep learning, the subset of artificial intelligence focused on data processing that is en vogue with Google, Facebook and other tech companies. The startup’s specialty is natural language processing — allowing computers to analyze relationships between words. Some of its capabilities disclosed in published research describe advancements in the field that outrank those of some of the larger tech giants.

Socher, a Stanford PhD, has said MetaMind’s plan was to sell this technology as a service to other companies. At MetaMind, he led a tiny group of researchers who gained a reputation for some rapid breakthroughs in the area of artificial intelligence. A Re/code report from 2014 described how after only four months, the team came in only slightly behind Google in the ImageNet competition, in which companies compete to build systems that can recognize images.

“Over the past year and a half, we’ve been on a mission to empower business users with state of the art deep learning technology to simplify, improve and automate decision making,” Socher wrote in today’s post. “And now, we’ll be able to continue our journey at Salesforce on a much larger scale, with the resources and ecosystem of one of the world’s most innovative and influential enterprise software companies.”

Salesforce will integrate MetaMind’s capabilities into its own, and so the startup’s products will be discontinued for unpaid Web users starting in May and for paid users in June.

With additional reporting by Mark Bergen.

Correction: We initially misstated the schedule for the discontinuation of MetaMind’s products. Sorry about that.
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