Two Indian American-led early-stage startups were among four that Google has invested in as part of a new program it has launched.
The Assistant Investments program, which is similar to Amazon’s Alexa Fund, will put money and other resources into startups that work with its digital assistant, according to the company.
For Google's smart speaker, Home, to compete successfully against Amazon's Echo line-up, it needs a varied and useful set of skills. For that to happen, developers need to see it as a worthwhile and practical platform to build for, CNBC reported.
Besides contributing capital, the Google Assistant Investments program will connect start-ups with the company's engineers and product people, provide early access to upcoming Smart Assistant features and support them through free marketing and Google Cloud credits, the report added.
Additionally, the program, overseen by Google Search and Assistant business unit vice president Nick Fox and spearheaded by Ilya Gelgenbeyn and Sudipta Chatterjee, will focus on making strategic investments, not maximizing returns. It isn't a traditional "fund" in that there's no cap on the amount the team can invest overall, the publication said.
Among the companies Google has invested in includes GoMoment, Edwin, BotSociety and Pulse Labs.
GoMoment, led by chief executive officer Raj Singh, is a a hotel concierge tool that lets guests ask about check-out times, bar happy hours or room service – currently used by several Las Vegas hotels.
Pulse Labs, led by Indian American Abhishek Suthan, develops test voice apps with users.
Edwin is an artificial-intelligence-powered English tutor to prepare people for foreign language tests. BotSociety, a platform to help developers design, prototype and test their own voice assistants, CNBC said.
Portfolio start-ups will work closely with Googlers across the organization, but the company says that it will be mindful of keeping proprietary information safe, according to the report.