Google starts throwing cash at Google Assistant startups

Today, Google is launching a new investment program for early stage startups that work to expand the hardware or functions of the Google Assistant. The new program provides financial resources, early access to Google features and tools, access to Google Cloud Platform and promotional support in efforts to boost young businesses. Google says that its investment program will also support startups focused on the use of the Google Assistant in travel, hospitality or games industries.

Startups will receive advice from Google engineers, product managers and design experts who will guide young companies through technical and product development. Google says it is looking to create new devices and ideas that use the Google Assistant in new ways.

"We are opening a new investment program for startups that share our passion for the ecosystem of digital assistants, helping to drive new ideas forward and advance the possibilities of what digital assistants can do," wrote Nick Fox, vice president Google search and assistant, and Sanjay Kapoor, vice president of corporate development at Google, in a statement.

The following four companies are the first to receive investments under the new Google program:

  • GoMoment, a company that does a 24/7 concierge service called Ivy. Ivy can give instant answers to common questions such as "Can I get a late payment?". The answers that need human input are sent to the hotel staff for a quick change.
  • Edwin, a personal artificial intelligence tutor who helps students prepare to take foreign language exams with personalized lessons. Users can prepare for the tests in Facebook Messenger and have the flexibility to study when and where they want.
  • BotSociety, a tool for developers to test and design voice interfaces.
  • Pulse Labs, an application that helps developers test their voice service applications that real people use.

Google did not disclose how much the investments are worth, but says that companies interested in an association can submit an application online.

Google's parent company, Alphabet, also has a venture capital investment arm called GV, which has invested in more than 300 companies. Previous Google investment initiatives include Neverware, a software platform that converts old computers into Chromebooks, and Senosis, an application that uses the accelerometer, microphone and camera of a smartphone for health diagnostics.