I See Your Siri and Raise You a Yap: Amazon Quietly Snaps Up Speech-Recognition Startup

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Amazon quietly purchased a Charlotte voice-to-text startup called Yap, an SEC filing shows.

Though the acquisition was apparently completed in September, no public announcement has been made by either company. The filing does not mention Amazon by name, but Yap merged with a company called "Dion Acquisition Sub" that just so happens to be headquartered at 410 Terry Avenue in Seattle, Washington, an Amazon.com building.

Yap's consumer voicemail-to-text service had remained in private beta, but according to Charlotte's CLTBlog, the underlying intellectual property reached far beyond the beta app.
Yap was founded by the Jablokov brothers, Igor and Victor, in 2006. In June 2008, the company raised a $6.5 Series A round of funding led by SunBridge Partners, which has an office in Charlotte.

"Yap is truly a leader in freeform speech recognition and driving innovation in the mobile user experience," Paul Grim, General Partner at SunBridge Partners, said at the time. "It is increasingly clear that the fastest, easiest, and safest way to interact with services on a mobile device is using your voice, and Yap makes this both possible and intuitive."

The acquisition is particularly interesting given the prominence of Apple's voice efforts and the depth of Google's. In the everyone-does-everything war between Apple, Google, Facebook, and Amazon, this could be a small step for Amazon into voice control, which it does not currently have in any of its products.

The other important context here is that this is another southern success story, much like the ones we highlighted in our Startup South roadtrip. Charlotte was one city that we didn't get to -- but we were impressed by the level of outrage that the local startup community seemed to feel about it. There have been some other good exits for startups from that area of North Carolina, too.


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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science website in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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