Google buys an AI avatar startup to take on TikTok

The company reportedly spent about $100 million to acquire Alter.


Google has quietly acquired a startup that was working on using AI to generate avatars for social media users and brands. According to TechCrunch, the company recently paid about $100 million to buy Alter. The acquisition went through about two months ago without Google publicly announcing it. On Thursday, the search giant confirmed the purchase but did not disclose the financial terms of the deal. According to TechCrunch, Google bought Alter to better compete against TikTok.

Alter began life as Facemoji, offering a platform that other developers could use to add avatar creation systems to their apps and games. Alter chief co-founder and operating officer Jonathan Slimak recently took to LinkedIn to share he was starting a position “building Avatars at Google.” How Alter’s team and technology could help Google better compete against TikTok is unclear. YouTube Shorts, Google’s take on the short-form video format, is already a success for the company. Following a global rollout in the summer of 2021, Google announced this past June the platform had 1.5 billion monthly active users.

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