Toronto-based Sam:) is being acquired by New York-based Hugging Face, which offers an AI chatbot that can talk to you — and even trade selfies.
Sam:) launched in 2015 with the original mission of connecting of connecting strangers based on the topics they’re interested in through SMS. A year later, the company went on to launch the Chatty McChatface bot on Kik and Facebook Messenger, targeted to teens looking for new people to talk with based on interests.
At the time, the platform facilitated 20 million total messages through 1.2 million conversations, leveraging natural language processing to learn a user’s interest and storing that information for better connections. Hugging Face is announcing a partnership with Kik, which constituted over half of Chatty’s user base.
Sam:)’s co-founders, Jonathan Keebler and Matt McCausland, are likely most well-known as the co-founders of Toronto-based ScribbleLive.
“HuggingFace is a an extremely popular app, and they’re backed by some of the best VCs in the industry. As we discussed their plans to launch on Kik, combining Sam:) and HuggingFace started to make a lot of sense,” said McCausland. “We have been–and continue to be–firm believers that an artificially intelligent friend, done right, will change the world for the better, and we believe the team at HuggingFace are the people to make that happen.”
While McCausland and Keebler won’t be joining the Hugging Face team, they will continue to work closely.
“Jonathan and Matt are experienced founders, who worked very hard on our shared vision for years,” said Clement Delangue, founder of Hugging Face. “They built one of the leading bots on Kik, and attracted hundreds of thousands of teenagers. Combined with the technology we’ve developed at Hugging Face, this will reinforce our position as the best artificial intelligence friend for teenagers.”