Yahoo buys Siri-like natural language software startup

SkyPhrase could help Yahoo fold speech recognition into more of its products.

Richard Nieva Former senior reporter
Richard Nieva was a senior reporter for CNET News, focusing on Google and Yahoo. He previously worked for PandoDaily and Fortune Magazine, and his writing has appeared in The New York Times, on CNNMoney.com and on CJR.org.
Richard Nieva
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Yahoo on Monday announced that it has acquired SkyPhrase, a "natural language processing" company that aims to make human speech more recognizable to computers. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The startup's team of four will join the tech giant's Yahoo Labs department, and will be based out of Yahoo's New York office. "In Yahoo, we have found a company that not only shares our vision, but delivers a rich collection of information and services to a massive user base," SkyPhrase said in a statement on its Web site.

Neither company has indicated just how Yahoo will fold SkyPhrase into its operations, but according to TechCrunch, the startup has in the past worked on features related to fantasy sports, one of the mainstays in Yahoo's product line. One app SkyPhrase has developed makes it easier for fantasy football users to search through relevant stats.

This is only the latest in a long string of acquisitions that Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has made since taking the helm in July 2012. Mayer has trumpeted a mobile-first ethos, while saying that the company wants to make more investments in search. The acquisition of SkyPhrase, which was backed by Peter Thiel through his investment arm Breakout Labs, would likely play into those efforts.