Artificial intelligence companies that do remain independent field a steady stream of suitors: Matthew Zeiler, chief executive of Clarifai, which specializes in image and video recognition, said he has been approached about a dozen times by prospective acquirers since starting the company in late 2013.

Clarifai’s pitch to customers such as consumer goods company Unilever Plc and hotel search firm Trivago is bolstered by its narrow focus on artificial intelligence. “(Google) literally competes with almost every company on the planet,” Zeiler said. “Are you going to trust them with being your partner for AI?”

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