Amazon Discreetly Acquires Start-up Harvest.ai

Amazon’s cloud services group recently, and discreetly, acquired AI security firm harvest.ai in their ongoing campaign of acquiring start-ups. A tipster told TechCrunch that the acquisition was a $19 million affair The cyber security firm uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to stop targeted attacks before critical customer data can be compromised. The patent-pending AI device, MACIE Analytics, learns how a user’s intellectual property is accessed in real-time in order to identify and flag suspicious behavior. The start-up presents this service as a way to stop insider attacks before they happen.

The purchase has not been confirmed by either Amazon or harvest.ai, but several articles of evidence provide support for the speculation. It is not a secret that the start-up has been acquired, as investors confirm as much in their portfolios. Trinity Ventures, a seed investor, lists havest.ai as ‘acquired’ on its portfolio but does not disclosure the identity of the buyer. Kelly Perdew of Moonshots Capital, another seed investor, lists the start-up as ‘acquired by undisclosed’.

Co-founders and developers of harvest.ai indirectly confirm the identity of the buyer through their networking and lifestyle changes. The LinkedIn profiles of several former harvest.ai software developers list Amazon Web Services as their current employers. Anna Zelenak and Alex Watson, married couple and two of the three co-founders of harvest.ai have recently relocated to Seattle, in proximity to Amazon’s headquarters. Jenny Brinkley, the third co-founder, lists Amazon as her employer on a political fundraising page.

Previously, Amazon Web Services featured harvest.ai in its ‘startup spotlight’ series. The series provides a public platform for entrepreneurs who aim to scale their businesses with limited funding.  The acquisition of harvest.ai fits into Amazon’s recent move into the security sphere of cloud services. At the launch of the Amazon AI platform, Amazon Web Services CEO confirmed this trajectory, “We do a lot of AI in our company. We have thousands of people dedicated to AI in our business.”

Originally published on Biznob and Rush Hour Daily on Jan 12, 2017.

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