Wednesday, 24 February 2021

VerSe Innovation makes first acquisition as a Unicorn with

  VerSe Innovation makes first acquisition as a Unicorn with AI-startup Cognirel Technologies

Brings on board Cognirel Founder & Quillpad-creator Ram Prakash to head its AI Lab


VerSe Innovation, India’s biggest local language technology platform, announced that it has acquired Cognirel Technologies, a Bengaluru-based AI solutions provider. VerSe will bring on board Cognirel Founder Ram Prakash to head its newly instituted AI Lab.

This acquisition bolsters VerSe’s commitment to creating cutting-edge digital capabilities to serve the emerging content needs of millions of consumers using technology. Today, VerSe Innovation’s proprietary technology platform powers 300 million + users to consume content in their local language on Dailyhunt. Its technology also powers its short video app Josh, which is India’s #1 and most engaging app in this category. The AI Lab will focus on enhancing and developing state of the art models through computer vision and Deep Learning innovations for understanding video content in terms of their visual, audio, semantic and socio-linguistic aspects to enable better user recommendations and experiences on existing platforms, while also working on fundamental research that pushes the frontiers in AI & ML as it reshapes India’s content landscape. The AI Lab will aggressively pursue neuroscience-inspired RL experiments to understand user taste-profiles, using non-intrusive, implicit behavioural signals, with the goal of boosting engagement and utility for the users.

Welcoming Ram Prakash and his team of scientists into the fold, VerSe Innovation Founder Virendra Gupta and Co-founder Umang Bedi shared, “We are inspired by Ram’s deep curiosity and understanding of India’s language landscape. His achievements in the field of AI & ML precede him, and he comes armed with an exceptional team and the expertise that we believe will create true impact for local language users through the reach and scale of Dailyhunt and Josh. We are very proud of the momentum on VerSe and with this acquisition, we move a step further on our strategic expansion path for our family of apps focused on Bharat. With Ram at the helm of our AI & ML Lab, we also feel confident in our ambitions of taking our products into digitally emerging markets across the world which have very distinct local characteristics.”

Ram Prakash H, in his new role as Head – VerSe Innovation AI Lab, shared, “AI & ML has been my passion for two decades now. When I created Quillpad, a first of its kind ML-based transliteration tool for Indian languages, I saw a unique opportunity in applying state-of-the-art advances in AI & ML to Indian languages. The best of AI/ML approaches today can’t be readily applied to Indian languages without the availability of high quality labelled data - multiply that with the number of languages we have and the problem is exponentially compounded. Current approaches are data-hungry and for solving Indian language NLP/NLU tasks, we don’t have labelled data. Our languages are inherently different from English, but linguistically well understood. We can leverage that. We will employ hybrid approaches that combine DL-based cross-lingual transfer learning techniques with classical computational linguistics models to alleviate the need for large labelled data. Dailyhunt and Josh ecosystems provide a great platform to do fundamental AI work, at scale, with live raw data pouring in by the seconds. It will be exciting to build solutions to make sense of all that.”

This technology-led acquisition of Cognirel is VerSe’s first since becoming a Unicorn in December 2020. Earlier this month, VerSe Innovation raised $100 million+ in a funding round led by global investors Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), the sovereign wealth fund of the State of Qatar and Glade Brook Capital Partners, close on the heels of a $100 million+ fundraise in December last year led by Alpha Wave, Google and Microsoft.

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