Google acquires Deepmind

Google has bought the British firm DeepMind Technologies, which specialises in developing artificial intelligence solutions. The company was founded in 2010 by Demis Hassabis, Shane Legg and Mustafa Suleyman and has concentrated on deep learning algorithms, that allow machines to learn in a similar fashion to humans, using experiential learning. The company has been well-funded and has demonstrated solutions for simulations, e-commerce and games. Google has also used Deep Learning for projects such as recognising house numbers from StreetView pictures.
Google is said to have paid around £400m, making it one of Google’s largest European acquisitions. Google has also agreed to set up an ethics board to ensure that the technology is not abused.

Konica Minolta buys stake in MGI

Konica Minolta has bought a minority 10 percent stake in MGI Digital Graphic Technology. The deal has cost Konica Minolta €13.7m, which it says is part of a common long term vision to establish a stronger presence in the professional digital printing market.
MGI will remain an independent company but both will collaborate on future products and Konica Minolta will sell some of the MGI printers, including the Meteor digital press line.
This plays into Konica Minolta’s ‘genre-top’ strategy of concentrating on specific niches, something which MGI has proven very good at with printers developed for producing cards and calendars as well as document printers. But MGI should benefit from Konica Minolta’s larger sales and service infrastructure.

EFI buys SmartLinc

EFI has acquired SmartLinc, an American company that develops shipping software. This software allows users to select the best carrier for their shipments and can be integrated with other software systems. Thus MIS can automatically submit print jobs to SmartLinc software, which then tracks shipment status, cost and carrier information, and transfers this information back to the MIS to give users a more complete picture of expenses, job delivery and other essential metrics.
As is usually the case with EFI’s acquisitions, the SmartLinc staff have all joined EFI, including co-owners Greg Billinghurst and Scott Kwiatkowski. As a side note, EFI’s CEO Guy Gecht told me last year that such employees were often more valuable to EFI than the companies it bought, pointing out that many of EFI’s senior managers have joined the company following acquisitions.
EFI hasn’t disclosed the terms of the deal but has said that it is not expected to be material to EFI’s Q1 or full-year 2014 results.