Waterloo, Ontario Android machine learning company Maluuba has closed a $9 million Series A round of funding, from Montreal-based Emerillon Capital, San Francisco-based Nautilus Ventures, and undisclosed strategic investors.
Founded in 2011, Maluuba launched to develop what the company refers to as “Siri for Android”, and concentrates on deep reinforcement learning to solve language-understanding problems and to train machines in emulating a human brain-like decision making process.
“At Maluuba, we’re focused on solving cutting-edge problems in artificial intelligence, specifically in natural language understanding, to give machines human-like intelligence,” said Maluuba co-founder and CEO Sam Pasupalak. “We’re integrating this technology into a portfolio of products to make interactions with smart devices easier and more seamless than ever before — and this funding will open the door to even more possibilities for us.”
Maluuba previously raised a $2 million seed round from Samsung Ventures in 2012.
The company’s engineering and customer operations office is in Waterloo, while its research office in Montreal works on solving the problems associated with understanding language for AI systems.
Samsung has a 24.3% share of the global smartphone market, shipping 82.8 million units in Q1 2015.
Nautilus Ventures managing director Brian Kang and Emerillon Capital managing director Ludovic Andre have joined Maluuba as board members, while co-founder and CEO of camera technology firm Light has been appointed chairman of the board.
“Natural language is the unsung hero of deep learning right now, and Maluuba has the chops to significantly advance how we think about and interact with all the machines in our lives,” said Light co-founder and CEO Dave Grannan. “Maluuba’s innovation in natural language understanding brings me back to my Vlingo roots and I’m excited to support the next wave of change with the bright minds at Maluuba.”
This round of funding will help Maluuba enhance its deep learning research and development, and its expansion into the automotive and Internet of Things sectors.
Maluuba is working with Qualcomm to integrate the voice command system in Maserati cars with Qualcomm’s connected speaker systems.
“No one is tackling deep learning like Maluuba. Their ability to customize solutions for partners in a variety of industries gives them the edge we look for and makes us confident in their potential as a long-term partner with patient capital,” said Emerillon Capital managing director Ludovic Andre. “We also believe that our strong transatlantic network could accelerate Maluuba’s penetration into the European market. Maluuba has proven to be a powerful solution for the world’s biggest technology companies, so investing in the team was a no-brainer. We’re thrilled to support them as they challenge and reinvent the dialogue between machine and man.”
Maluuba’s natural language technology has been deployed in more than 10 languages across more than 50 million devices in the smart phone, smart TV, and IoT sectors.