Apple Adds To Its AI And Privacy Portfolio With Silk Labs Acquisition

Without any fanfare, Apple has gone out and acquired Silk Labs, a machine learning company that provides on-device artificial intelligence for businesses. Apple kept the acquisition quiet, and actually bought the small start-up based in San Mateo, California earlier this year without any fanfare or even a press release.

As a company, Silk Labs isn't as widely known as Apple, though it has an interesting history. It was founded by three engineers who previously worked at Mozilla developing Firefox OS. Specifically, former Mozilla CTO Andreas Gal, former Mozilla platform engineer Chris Jones, and former contributor Michael Vines, who also held numerous positions at Qualcomm for more than a decade, teamed up to start Silk Labs.

One of the first projects Silk Labs worked on was Sense, a smart home camera/hub that appeared on crowdfunding site Kickstarter. Silk Labs had raised $2.5 million before going to Kickstarter, which added another $165,000 to its pot. Even though that surpassed the $100,000 goal the company had set, Silk Labs cancelled the project and refunded backers on Kickstarter their money.

According to The Information, Apple's acquisition of Silk Labs is a done deal, having taken place sometime earlier this year. The site surmises it was probably a small purchase for Apple. Silk Labs is not a big outfit—it has around a dozen employees and raised in the neighborhood of $4 million in funding, based on data collected by PitchBook, a research firm that tracks startup financing.

Apple, meanwhile, is a gigantic player in the technology sector with a market capitalization of more than $854 billion. It's not entirely clear what Apple plans to do with Silk Labs, though like everyone else, the company is invested in machine learning and AI technologies.