Appen acquires Figure Eight for up to $300M, bringing two data annotation companies together

Appen just announced that it’s
acquiring Figure
Eight
 in an all-cash deal that sees Appen paying $175 million
upfront, with an additional payment of up to $125 million based on
Figure
Eight’s
performance this year.

Both companies focus on using crowdsourced labor pools to
annotate data, which in turn is used to train artificial
intelligence and machine learning — for example, Figure Eight
(formerly known as CrowdFlower and Dolores Labs) says its
technology has been for everything from mapping to stock
photography to scanning receipts for expense reports.

Appen, meanwhile, is a publicly-traded company headquartered in
Sydney. CEO Mark Brayan described its technology — and its
“crowd” of more than 1 million remote workers — as “highly
complementary” to Figure Eight, which he praised for its data
annotation and self-serve capabilities.

“We know that to compete and to be able to deliver even higher
volumes, we need a richer set of technologies,” Brayan said.
“That’s where Figure Eight comes in. They are, in our view, the
leader in the market of the platform providers.”

As for what this means for the Figure Eight team, he said,
“Everybody stays in place,” and that Appen plans to continue
investing in the product.

Brayan also noted that Appen previously acquired another data
annotation company called Leapforce
in 2017, a move that he
said provided the company with greater scale.

“The Figure Eight acquisition is the next step of our
evolution,” he said. “Step one was to get bigger, step two is
to become much more tech forward, which is what we get with Figure
Eight.”

San Francisco-based Figure Eight has raised a total of $58
million in funding, according to
Crunchbase
, from investors including Trinity Ventures, Industry
Ventures, Canvas Ventures and Salesforce Ventures. As CrowdFlower,
it
launched on-stage at the TechCrunch50 conference
 nearly a
decade ago.

“I’m extremely proud of the team,” said Figure Eight
co-founder Lukas Biewald in
a statement. “This is a genuine validation of everything we’ve
achieved and a great platform for our teams to combine and
continue to do amazing things in AI.”

Biewald (a college friend of mine), along with his co-founder
Chris Van Pelt, has

moved on to a new startup called Weights and Biases
, but he
remains involved in Figure Eight as chairman. You can watch
their TC50 presentation here
.

Source: FS – All Tech News 2
Appen acquires Figure Eight for up to 0M, bringing two data annotation companies together