Amazon reportedly acquires startup to make Alexa smarter

Amazon has reportedly acquired data analysis and search engine startup Graphiq for around $50 million, according to LA Times, citing four sources familiar with the deal.

Launched in 2009 as FindTheBest, the startup offered online spreadsheets comparing vacations, technology, real estate, and more. It would pull data, like prices and ratings, from public sources, allowing them to create valued data for researchers.

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In 2016, Graphiq launched a now unavailable Alexa app that let users ask questions, such as “What is the fastest 2016 sedan?” – Alexa would then pull data from Graphiq and supply an answer. Amazon supposedly let Graphiq test the app with its books database.

Amazon recently began looking to hire software developers and data associates in the Santa Barbara area, where Graphiq is located. The startup ended its business license, stopped posting on social media, and apparently dropped a few key executives, all typical moves before an acquisition.

While Amazon was late to the personal assistant party, the Echo propelled it ahead of competitors, by forcing users to interact with the device through voice. That said, it has struggled to make Alexa an all encompassing device, capable of answering every query.

Third-party apps have helped, but some consumers are struggling to find everyday use. The online spreadsheets supplied by Graphiq may help some, especially if customers are able to ask plenty of follow-up questions to narrow the search.

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