Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Amazon acquired Angel.ai. The company instead made an individual hire of its co-founder and CEO, Navid Hadzaad. The article also stated Hadzaad was named Amazon's Head of New Bot Products; his correct title is Product Lead, New Initiatives.
Amazon has hired Navid Hadzaad, co-founder and CEO of Angel.ai, a startup that develops chatbots and natural language processing technology.
TechCrunch first reported the Hadzaad hire. Amazon subsequently confirmed the news in an email to Retail Dive, also stating that Hadzaad's title is Product Lead, New Initiatives.
Angel.ai was once called GoButler, and last year raised about $8 million in Series A funding from firms including General Catalyst Partners, Lakestar, Rocket Internet’s Global Founders Capital, Slow Ventures, BoxGroup, Ashton Kutcher and Guy Oseary’s Sound Ventures, and Cherry Ventures.
Amazon continues to amass talent in the artificial intelligence space. The e-commerce giant recently swooped in to hire AI executive Hassan Sawaf from eBay and earlier acquired Orbeus, a company that had developed AI-based photo recognition technology, as well as a Cambridge University research team.
Perhaps inspired by the success of its Echo-based virtual assistant technology Alexa, Amazon appears to be putting the pieces together for an effort that could reinvigorate its website with more comprehensive use of AI and similar technologies that enhance the customer experience in new ways. Amazon already has set the bar for e-commerce customer experience, but there’s no reason it can’t keep raising the bar.
Of course, Amazon is not alone in pursuing AI for retail applications. Everyone from Facebook to eBay to Macy’s to Staples is testing or already using some variation of AI technology. But in a new field like this, talent, knowledge and experience are extremely valuable, and Amazon is making a push not just to develop the technology, but also to own the brains behind it (the human brains, that is.)
Hadzaad appears to fit that mold as well as anybody. Angel.ai has been spearheading the development of natural language processing technology, which among other things enables automated voice-driven site searches and customer engagement through virtual assistance. It’s technology that is key to the rise of conversational commerce, which appears to be where Amazon is headed next.