Google, the search engine behemoth quietly acquired AI avatar startup, Alter, earlier this year year, according to a report from TechCrunch. 

Alter helps creators and brands make avatars to express their identity. It was acquired by Google for $100 million in a quiet purchase two months ago, according to a TechCrunch report. Google revealed the acquisition on Thursday, but declined to offer a purchase price or the date of the buyout. 

The company started off as Facemoji, a platform that offers plug and play tech to help game developers put avatar systems into their games. The company later pivoted to Alter. It had received $3 million in seed funding from investors like Twitter, Roosh Ventures and Play Ventures. 

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Some of Alter’s top executives updated their profiles to reflect them joining Google without making any public announcements. According to the TechCrunch report, the acquisition was motivated by Google’s desire to better push its content algorithms on YouTube, particularly YouTube Shorts. It is an attempt from YouTube to contend with TikTok’s ongoing domination of the short-form content market. 

For its own part, the US and Czech Republic-headquartered Alter, has been building its AI model to not only create avatars of people using AI, but also adding in the accessories and clothing that they’re wearing at the time. The company’s CEO Robin Raszka told TechCrunch in an interview last year that the aim was to help people show themselves, just because people want to. 

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Over the last few years, Google has been quietly been moving to acquire as many AI-related technologies as possible. In particular, the company has been focusing on language learning models and image generating AIs. It seems like the tech behemoth is building its product suites to revolve around AI models.

It has also been adding AI processes into its hardware, limited though that addition is to the Pixel 7 device, for now. It has added AI processing into its latest phone in a bid to help make better looking photographs and seamless speech to text transitions.