Figure Eight Acquired by Appen

AI data enrichment platform Figure Eight announced today that it has been acquired by Appen, a developer of high-quality, human-annotated datasets for ML and AI. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Becky Scott, Figure Eight chief operating officer, said that the conjunction of the two companies offer a “single-source global data annotation solution for any company, in any vertical, seeking to advance its use of artificial intelligence.”

“With a critical component of our integration complete, we’re excited for the opportunity to deliver immediate value to Figure Eight customers who can now accelerate their AI and machine learning initiatives with the massive scale of Appen’s crowd,” said Mark Brayan, Appen’s Chief Executive Officer. “We’re also pleased to offer even more flexible work from home opportunities to our crowd as a result of integrating with the Figure Eight platform.”

Figure Eight uses human intelligence to create quality data to train machine learning models. The data that Figure Eight helps enhance can train models relating to natural language processing; images, video, and computer vision; search relevance; data enrichment; and speech-to-text. Under the acquisition, the company’s users now have access to Appen’s over 1 million on-demand global crowd workers covering 130 countries across 180 languages and dialects.

Founded in 2009 as CrowdFlower, the company rebranded to Figure Eight last April to refocus on AI and machine learning opportunities. At FinovateFall 2014, the company won Best of Show for its demonstration on how its crowdsourced workforce quickly collects, cleans, and labels financial transaction data to help banks curate a better customer experience.

Headquartered in California and founded by Chris Van Pelt and Lukas Biewald, Figure Eight has raised $58 million from firms including K9 Ventures, Industry Ventures, Trinity Ventures, and Bessemer Venture Partners.

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This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

Figure Eight Collaborating with Google Cloud on Machine Learning

AI data enrichment platform Figure Eight (formerly known as CrowdFlower) announced a collaboration this week with Google Cloud. Through the partnership, Figure Eight will serve as the data launch partner for Google Cloud AutoML, helping AutoML customers collect and prepare data and experiment with models.

Google Cloud’s AutoML is a set of machine learning tools that help developers leverage Google’s transfer learning and Neural Architecture Search technology to train machine learning models. These tools require developers to have little knowledge of machine learning and therefore allow for fast scalability.

To simplify the process for developers, Figure Eight will offer AutoML-specific templates to simplify the process of uploading training data to AutoML, as well as consultation services and guidance for developers. With these tools and resources, AutoML customers can create training data to train, test, and improve their machine learning models.

Figure Eight already provides training data to other Google teams, such as Jigsaw; the newly formed collaboration with AutoML is an extension of those capabilities. Figure Eight CEO Robin Bordoli said that the collaboration stems from a common mission of democratizing AI. “We’re excited companies can use the Figure Eight platform to create the necessary training data to deploy computer vision machine learning models faster, more effectively and at a larger scale without having to build an internal team of machine learning experts,” said Bordoli.

Founded in 2009 as CrowdFlower, the company rebranded to Figure Eight in April to refocus on AI and machine learning opportunities. At FinovateFall 2014, the company won Best of Show for its demonstration on how its crowdsourced workforce quickly collects, cleans, and labels financial transaction data to help banks curate a better customer experience. Headquartered in California, Figure Eight has raised $58 million from firms including K9 Ventures, Industry Ventures, Trinity Ventures, and Bessemer Venture Partners.

Google Cloud presented a talk titled Journey to Cloud: First Steps, Production and Machine Learning at FinDEVr New York 2017.

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This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

CrowdFlower Rebrands as Figure Eight to Take Advantage of Booming Interest in AI

Here’s one that slipped under the radar as we were gearing up for FinovateSpring. Crowdsourcing platform provider for online staffing Crowdflower rebranded as Figure Eight in April. In a blog post previewing the change, CEO Robin Bordoli explained that changes in the evolution of artificial intelligence and the market for machine learning were opening up new opportunities for the firm.

“As the market has evolved, CrowdFlower has adapted to serve our customers and their changing needs. We’ve executed intentional changes to how we operate to meet the market requirements of scale, quality, complexity, and flexibility,” Bordoli wrote. These changes have included shifting the company from managed service to SaaS, abstracting sourcing human intelligence from the application of human intelligence, Human-in-the-loop and active learning, combining human intelligence and machine learning, and acting as a trusted AI guide for customers just beginning to take advantage of the technology. Bordoli took over as CEO of the company which was led by founder Lukas Biewald until early 2015.

The company said that it chose the name Figure Eight for a variety of reasons – and in consultation with “one of the top naming agencies in the valley.” These reasons varied from the continuous loop shape of the figure eight to the number eight as a reference to a byte, which is a building block of eight bits, to the numerical difference between the atomic numbers for Carbon (6) and Silicon (14). “Carbon is an essential component of human biology,” Bordoli wrote. “Silicon is an essential component of computing power. So the number eight represents the bridge between humans and machines.”

As part of the reorganization, Figure Eight has made a handful of executive and board of directors changes. Dale Brown was hired to work as VP of Business Development after previously serving in a similar capacity at Bitnami. Robert Munro was promoted from VP of Machine Learning to Chief Technology Officer. Alyssa Simpson Rochwerger was hired to work as VP of Product, having worked as director of project management at IBM Watson. Figure Eight also added Alta Vista search engine company founder Louis Monier to its board of directors.

Based in San Francisco and founded in 2009, Figure Eight (as CrowdFlower) demonstrated its platform that automates the management of online human workforces at FinovateFall 2014, earning Best of Show honors. With $58 million in funding, Figure Eight includes Industry Ventures, M12, Canvas Ventures, Trinity Ventures, Harmony Partners, and Bessemer Venture Partners among its investors. Earlier this month, the company introduced a suite of new solutions designed to help more businesses embrace AI: Figure Eight Datasets, Video Object Tracking, and Smart Bounding Box Annotation.

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This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.