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Samsung quietly acquires Greek text-to-speech startup Innoetics for under $50M

Samsung quietly acquires Greek text-to-speech startup Innoetics for under $50M
From TechCrunch - July 11, 2017

With the launch of Bixby and reports that Samsung is building its own competitor to Amazons Echo, the consumer electronics giant has now made an acquisition that could help power its next generation of voice-powered services.

Samsung has acquired Innoetics, a startup out of Greece that has developed text-to-speech and voice-to-speech technology that can, among other things, listen to a person speaking, train on what that person is saying, and then read out a piece of completely unrelated text in that same voice.

Samsung has agreed to acquire Innoetics, the company told us in an emailed statement in response to our questions. Samsung is always exploring ways to deepen our relationships with companies like Innoetics whose technologies present an opportunity to strengthen Samsungs capabilities.

Innoetics had been working primarily on B2B services up to now, with telcos and other businesses using its tech by way of a set of APIs. Innoetics has now posted a note on on the homepage of its website announcing that these B2B services have now been discontinued.

Its not clear yet what Samsung plans to do with the tech, but according to one person, it is perfectly suited for consumer services.

In other words, we could see it working with Bixby, or a new piece of hardware, or something for Samsungs extensive mobile handset business, or all of the above. Or something else entirely different, given Samsungs reach into so many other areas of consumer electronics. In any case, Samsung plans to keep Innoetics and its 8-10 employees (the higher number includes contractors) based in Athens as a subsidiary of its wider business.

Terms of the dealwhich officially closed last Fridayhave not been disclosed, but we understand that its one of the bigger exits for a tech startup in Greece. Sources tell us that Innoetics went for less than the amount Daimler paid for Taxibeat, an Uber rival that it acquired earlier this year for around 40 million ($43 million).

Samsung acquiring Innoetics follows other acquisitions it has made in the area of voice-based technologynamely, in October last year, Samsung bought the personal assistant startupViv, which it used to help build Bixby.

Samsung has incubated and acquired other kinds of tech, too, such as its recent move to pick up VRB, a VR startup that it funded and incubated by Samsungs emerging technology investment and development arm Samsung Next, which was also behind the acquisition of Viv and, now, Innoetics.

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