Flipkart vies for voice-powered shopping with Liv.ai acquisition
Bengaluru-based Liv.ai offers an artificial intelligence (AI) powered speech API that enables developers to convert speech-to-text by using neural network models.
The API recognises nine languages – English, Hindi, Bengali, Punjabi, Marathi, Gujarati, Kannada, Tamil and Telugu.
With the acquisition, Flipkart is seeking to compete in a market that has around 200 million online shoppers.
Kalyan Krishnamurthy, CEO of Flipkart, says: “The next wave of growth of internet users is coming from tier 2+ cities [like Pune, Cochin, Mangalore] and 70% of these current internet users are vernacular language speakers with this proportion only increasing.”
Krishnamurthy adds: “Given the complexities in typing on vernacular keyboards, voice will become a preferred interface for new shoppers.”
Over the next six to eight months, Flipkart says it anticipates enabling voice integration on some parts of its platform.
Financial details were not disclosed but Liv.ai’s 20 staff members will be joining the firm.
The Walmart effect
Flipkart has got some fuel for its e-commerce ambitions as back in May Walmart signed definitive agreements to become the largest shareholder in the firm.
Walmart said it will pay approximately $16 billion for an initial stake of around 77% in Flipkart.
On 18 August, Flipkart revealed some more news about this deal.
Flipkart’s existing management team will continue to lead the business. Tencent and Tiger Global Management will remain represented on the Flipkart board, in addition to independent board members, and will be joined by new members from Walmart.
Walmart’s investment includes $2 billion of new equity funding. Both companies will retain their brands and operating structures in India.