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Australia – AI and machine learning platform Appen acquires Figure Eight

14 March 2019

Figure Eight, a US-based crowdsourcing platform provider in the online staffing space, agreed to be acquired by Sydney, Australia-based Appen (ASX:APX).

Appen will pay USD 175 million up front for Figure Eight and an additional payment of up to USD 125 million in 2020 based on 2019 performance.

The company has offices worldwide and a global crowd of more than 1 million contractors working in more than 130 countries. Its global customer base includes eight of the world’s 10 largest technology companies.

Appen describes itself as a ‘global leader in the provision of high-quality, human-annotated datasets for machine learning and AI’.

Figure Eight, previously known as CrowdFlower, was founded in 2007 in San Francisco, California. According to Appen, CrowdFlower has played a critical role in the artificial intelligence ecosystem.

“Figure Eight has released a variety of innovative capabilities to enhance its platform – including machine learning-assisted data labelling and video object tracking – that can create high-quality training datasets up to 50 times faster than human labelling alone,” Appen stated.

Figure Eight will operate largely independently as a division of Appen through the end of 2019.

“We now have the best of both worlds: our highly efficient cloud management platform and scalable, skillful multilingual crowd, combined with Figure Eight’s innovative customer facing SaaS (Software as a Service) platform with ML (machine learning)-assisted annotation,” Appen CEO Mark Brayan, said.

Crowdsourcing companies generated USD 780 million worldwide in 2017, according to Staffing Industry Analysts’ report, The Gig Economy and Human Cloud Landscape: 2018 Update.

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