Recently Google made its first Indian acquisition with AI startup Halli Labs. Halli Labs is a Bengaluru-based company that started its journey barely four months ago. The startup focuses on solutions based on artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Halli (meaning village in Kannada) Labs announced, both on its website and blog site Medium, that “its team was joining Google.” It didn’t divulge further details. Neither did it disclose the deal value. A Google spokesperson confirmed the development :
“We are excited that the Halli Labs team is joining Google. They will be joining our team that is focused on building products that are designed for the next billion users coming online, particularly in India.”
Founder Pankaj Gupta’s LinkedIn account says the firm started in April this year, the very next month after he left the now-defunct local Airbnb rival Stayzilla. Gupta has a PhD in Computer Science from Stanford University.
Pradhuman Jhala, who served at both Twitter and Stayzilla around the same time as Gupta, is an engineer at Halli Labs. He is “building products based on applied ML in speech recognition and NLP domains,” Jhala’s Linkedin profile said.
Halli Labs in its post says it was born with the vision of “applying modern ML techniques to old problems and domains”, an indication that it wanted to help rural India get access to information on patchy internet.
It’s not entirely clear how large Halli Labs is, but its core team members including Pankaj Gupta, and Pradhuman Jhala, were previously at marketplace Stayzilla. Gupta, who founded Halli Labs and assumes CEO position, was the chief product officer and chief technology officer at Stayzilla, while Jhala was the chief architect.
In early 2014, US-based social networking giant Facebook had bought Bangalore-based startup Little Eye Labs. In 2016, Apple acquired Hyderabad-based AI start-up Tuplejump.
India has emerged as one of the biggest markets for internet companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple for talent as well as business. The increasing number of start-ups, built by former employees of these and other multinational firms, has helped focus on building products that solve problems of consumers, both in India and abroad.