According to a CNBC report, Google’s program will be similar to the Alexa Fund from Amazon. However, the investment program is not just about throwing cash at startups. The program will connect participants with Google’s engineers, product personnel and give startups early access to new Assistant features.
That being said, there is no cap on the amount of funds Google can invest in startups. Nick Fox, one of the vice presidents of Google’s Search and Assistant business unit, won’t say how much it invested in the four startups kicking off the program. He described the amount as being “relatively significant.”
The program is starting things out with investments in four companies. The first is Botsociety, a platform to help developers create and test their own chatbots and voice assistants. There is also an English tutor AI that helps you learn and prepare for English as a foreign language tests called Edwin. Another startup called GoMoment is building an AI hotel concierge that gives customers information about check-out times, room service and more. Finally, there’s Pulse Labs, a startup that tests voice interactions with users.
“It’s about bringing the resources of Google to bear to build the digital assistant ecosystem,” said Fox.
With Amazon’s Alexa Fund, one of the participants claimed Amazon had cloned their product. However, Google says it will be keeping proprietary information safe while working closely with companies in the program.
According to Fox, startups have been more enthusiastic than cautious. He’s looking forward to working with a wide spectrum of companies.