Google Buys Wavii for $30 million, Mirroring Yahoo’s Deal

(Reuters) – Google Inc. has acquired Wavii, the Seattle-based startup behind a news summarization app, for roughly $30 million in cash, a person with knowledge of the matter said Tuesday.

Google’s successful bid came after Apple Inc. had expressed interest in buying Wavii to incorporate the startup’s natural language technology into Siri, Apple’s voice-activated personal assistant feature, said the person, who declined to be named because the deal has not been publicly announced.

Google and Wavii declined to comment.

Google’s purchase comes several weeks after Yahoo Inc. paid a similar amount to acquire Summly, the news reader and Wavii competitor founded by 18-year-old Nick D’Aloisio in London.

The deals have taken out of play two small companies that sought to enhance how consumer experience news — a significant concern for Google and Yahoo, which both maintain highly trafficked news sites.

In separate interviews last year, Wavii founder Adrian Aoun and D’Aloisio acknowledged the competition between the two startups.

D’Aloisio touted Summly’s superior user interface, which condenses articles into several easy-to-read paragraphs. Aoun played up his app’s technology, including a proprietary algorithm that boiled down complex news stories into sentences of just a few words.

Wavii’s investors included Paypal co-founder Max Levchin, former Facebook executive Dave Morin, and Fritz Lanman, a former dealmaker at Microsoft Corp.

Wavii raised very little in private capital. The company raised $287,500 from six undisclosed investors in January 2009, according to a regulatory document obtained by Thomson Reuters (publisher of peHUB). It then raised a $2 million seed round in July 2010 from Levchin, Lanman, SV Angel, Felicis Ventures, Mitch Kapor, Scott Banister and CrunchFund, according to CrunchBase.

Most of the startup’s employees are expected to relocate to Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, California.

News of the acquisition was first reported by Techcrunch.

By Gerry Shih, Reuters

(Reporting by Gerry Shih; Editing by Richard Chang. Additional reporting about Wavii’s financing by Lawrence Aragon for peHUB.)

Photo credit: The Google signage is seen at the company’s headquarters in New York January 8, 2013. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly