Google invests in Japanese AI and machine learning startup ABEJA – TechCrunch


Google made a rare investment in Japan after the company conducted a follow-up round for AI and machine learning start-up ABEJA.

The amount of the deal is not disclosed, but a bit of digging suggests it is likely a figure of US $ 1 million. Indeed, six-year-old ABEJA has confirmed that she has raised 6 billion yen ($ 53 million) from investors to date. The company raised $ 45 million in disclosed capital, according to Crunchbase, which leaves around $ 8 million unaccounted for – although that covers both Google’s investment and a previous Series A deal in 2014, which also went undisclosed.

Numbers aside, the deal is remarkable not only because it represents a Google deal in Japan, but also because it is strategic in nature.

“Going forward, ABEJA and Google will collaborate on AI and ML solutions across various industries, including retail and manufacturing, fostering the application of AI solutions, as well as further growth of the Japanese AI sector, ”ABEJA said in a statement.

The startup’s core offering is a “platform as a service” that uses machine learning to help more than 150 companies develop business insights and insights from their data stacks. There is a specialty product for retail stores that focuses on customer and retailer data – which is used by around 100 corporate customers, according to ABEJA.

“ABEJA has strong technical capabilities and ML expertise, and is respected throughout the industry for its track record of collaboration and the efficient deployment of its technology solutions,” said Shinichi Abe, general manager of Google Cloud Japan, in a prepared statement. “This investment paves the way for collaboration with ABEJA in innovative solutions in the retail and manufacturing sector, as well as other verticals. “

Google has focused on AI and machine learning in China – where it opened a lab in Beijing a year ago – but that aside, the majority of its research and effort has come from United States and also from Europe, where its Deep Mind unit is located. . Google acquired startups in India and Singapore that include AI and ML capabilities, but these deals were aimed at growing its in-house product teams, which customize and create services for these growing local markets.

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