Israeli startup Ginger Software will split and has sold its personal assistant technology to Intel for an estimated $10 -20M. Following this transaction, the team that dealt with the development of the technology along with Yael Krov, the entrepreneur who founded the company, are expected to merge in the acquiring company while the rest of the employees, including Maoz Shacht, the General Manager of the other division are expected to continue to develop the company’s other products. Ginger employs 50 employees at its offices in the Shalom tower in Tel – Aviv.
“Ginger’s ‘English as a second language’ technology is still moving forward and a part of the money we got from this deal will be used to supply it’s demand in the market” said Yael Karov in and interview for Geektime. Karov has been managing the ‘Innovation’ business unit in Ginger, the one that was just sold to Intel, and is trying to keep its activity under wraps. “We are planning to use our new resources to bring the company to profitability, improve our existing line of products, serve our existing customers and bring in new ones. We’ve built an innovative technology and I am feeling lucky to have worked with each and every one of the team members. Now, we have a new opportunity to continue building this technology under Intel’s roof and I am happy that the other teams also got what they needed in order to keep moving forward”.
What goes around comes around
Ginger was founded in 2007 and aimed at developing a set of tools and algorithms capable of identifying errors in English and offering relevant corrective options. The platform emphasizes grammar and spelling errors only. In February 2012, the company raised $6.3 million from Shlomo Kalish’s Israeli venture capital firm Vaizra Ventures. Following that round, the company retained Net Jacobsson, a former Facebook exec, who helped Ginger close another round of $5.4 million in funding from Li Ka – Shing’s Horizon Ventures and Harbor Pacific Capital, for the sole purpose of using their technology to develop the platform into a Personal Digital Assistant.
Jacobsson didn’t stick around for long and after a couple of months he was laid off and Karov came back to running the company. While leading the company’s operations he presided over two primary tasks: developing the existing product, and launching a mobile version of the Android operating system keyboard (Babylon, another Israeli company and one of the largest translation software companies in the world offers its users the possibility to correct misspellings through the use of Ginger’s solutions). On top of that, Karov had developed a new personal assistant platform business unit, which was suppose to support developers working on their own digital assistants in Mobile, to use Automatic Speech Recognition and Natural Language Understanding technologies developed by Ginger for their own apps.
In the middle of last year, Shacht, a veteran in the Israeli startup industry, joined Ginger as GM for the “English as a second language” division. With Shacht’s extensive experience in development and product management, Karov went on to head the innovation business unit and focus on developing the new platform . This move, that took place last August, was what split the company into two separate departments; the second of which was sold this week.
Following the deal, Karov and her team of 16 engineers are due to join Intel’s Israeli offices and continue the development of their technology. “Last year we brought on a new GM that will give us the ability to make this change, It was something we knew we were going to do and we’ve been expecting it for a while”, Said Karov.
After all these shakeups, and the founding company breaking part (although Karov is staying a part of the board), it will be interesting to see if the company will be able to make the much needed changes required to fit with its current line of products.
If all these changes are not enough, the company’s chairman, Adi Soffer Teeni, was appointed in mid March as the CEO of Facebook Israel .
Both Ginger Software and Intel have confirmed the deal.