Facebook to acquire Pittsburgh-based Mobile Technologies
Social media giant Facebook will buy a Pittsburgh-based language technology company founded by a Carnegie Mellon University computer scientist, the companies announced on their websites Tuesday.
The acquisition of Mobile Technologies and its Jibbigo speech translation app by the world's most popular social-networking site adds to a list of CMU-related tech startups that have gained international exposure or financing in the past few years.
“It says good things. It says if you want to start a company in this general field, Pittsburgh is the place to do it,” said Jaime Carbonell, director of the Language Technologies Institute at CMU and a colleague of Mobile Technologies founder Alex Waibel. “The people are here, and the technology is here.”
Waibel, a professor at CMU and the University of Karlsruhe in Germany, was out of the country and could not be reached.
“We look forward to continuing to develop our technology at Facebook and finding new and interesting ways to apply it to Facebook's long-term product roadmap,” Mobile Technologies said in a statement posted at jibbigo.com.
It said the company's unspecified number of employees would move to Facebook's headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif.
Waibel has labs in Pittsburgh, Germany, Hong Kong and Silicon Valley.
Waibel's company, founded in 2001, will help Facebook improve products as voice technology becomes an increasingly important way for people to navigate the Web, Tom Stocky, a product-management director at Facebook, said on the company's website.
“Although more than a billion people around the world already use Facebook every month, we are always looking for ways to help connect the rest of the world as well,” Stocky wrote. “This acquisition is an investment in our long-term product road map as we continue toward our company's mission.”
Neither company disclosed terms of the deal.
Waibel developed Jibbigo and introduced it in 2009. It stands for “gibberish of language on the go.” The app used technology perfected at Carnegie Mellon's Silicon Valley campus.
Its latest iPhone translator app allows someone to speak one of more than 20 languages into the phone and get a translation in the language of choice.
Several websites that rate mobile apps gave Jibbigo high marks in recent years as it gained popularity among students and travelers.
The app's Pittsburgh connection helps CMU cultivate more talent and build on what has become a prime platform for computer science and language technology, Carbonell said.
“There is this huge cloud of spinoff companies now and they are successful, with a rate of about 75 percent,” he said.
They include the Recaptcha technology that CMU professor Luis von Ahn developed and Google bought three years ago; Lycos, an early search engine that patented technology used today; and the Vivisimo data company that IBM acquired last year.
Staff writer Alex Nixon and Bloomberg News contributed. David Conti is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-388-5802 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Strengthening U.S. growth reflects help from Federal Reserve
- How to avoid Amazon and still get deals
- Sweet tooth will cost you more next year
- Radiation detection of drilling waste nearly set at W.Va. landfills
- Mylan’s 3Q profit triples on strong U.S. sales
- Profit falls at vitamin retailer GNC Holdings in third quarter
- Bayer profit edges higher, raises forecasts
- Highmark’s new REMWorks Sleep Store will sell sleep apnea equipment
- CCAC, Energy Innovation Center respond to energy industry’s growing demand
- Apple CEO Tim Cook: ‘I’m proud to be gay’
- Hedge funds sue to block EDMC deal