Google has acquired Alter, a Twitter-backed AI avatar startup formerly named Facemoji, for $100 million. According to TechCrunch, the acquisition was completed two months ago, and Alter’s website remains down.
Investing in AI Technology
In recent years, Google has been investing heavily in its AI technology. The company is putting AI at the center of its products, from language learning models to image generators. With Search, Google is using AI to help people filter out bad results and help those struggling with personal crises.
Google’s Integration of AI Processing Cores
Google’s integration of AI processing cores into its hardware, such as the recently released Pixel 7, is to help better process photos or translate speech. While Google’s social media aspirations fizzled out in 2018, it is finding renewed momentum with YouTube Shorts, the company’s short-form video platform meant to compete with TikTok. Google Avatars could integrate with Shorts sometime in the future.
Alter, headquartered in the US and the Czech Republic, aims to generate avatars using AI, not only of people but of the clothing and accessories they wear. For example, a person can buy an NFT of a designer bag and accessorize their avatar. This technology could integrate into video games and the metaverse.
According to Alter’s CEO, Robin Raszka, “ultimately it boils down to ego” and “how you show off that you have a Birkin bag, avatars on Twitter are the prime real estate for this, people just want to show off.”
Confirmation of the Acquisition
Google confirmed the acquisition late Thursday but didn’t provide details on the exact date of the acquisition and purchase price. Alter’s chief operating officer, Jon Slimak, has updated his LinkedIn profile to reflect a new role at Google Avatars.
Possible Integration with YouTube Shorts
As Google finds renewed momentum with YouTube Shorts, the possibility of Google Avatars integrating with Shorts is plausible. This acquisition shows Google’s intent to innovate and push the tech industry’s boundaries.