Founded in 2006 by the Jablokov brothers, Yap was an American technology company that created the Yap Speech Cloud, a fully cloud-based speech recognition system. It was a speech to text transcription solution that was used by companies like Microsoft for its Talk to Text Blackberry application.
In 2011, the company caught Amazon’s eye and the tech giant acquired it to help in the development of its wildly popular products Alexa, Echo, and Fire TV.
Yap’s acquisition seemed to be quite secretive as no announcement was made by either company. It was only through the SEC filings that people figured out what had become of Yap.
At the time of the acquisition, Amazon’s rival companies such as Apple and Google had been focusing heavily on their voice recognition technology. Amazon, instead, didn’t have any voice control abilities in its products which was a disadvantage for the highly competitive company.
Buying Yap was a step in the right direction for Amazon and surely helped them in getting closer to their goals of creating products like Alexa and the Echo. However, some were confused by the decision as Yap’s features had been quite different from the traditional voice control functionality needed for a product like Alexa.
The developer of Yap, Jeff Adams, started working for Amazon after his company got acquired. He revealed that Amazon had acquired Yap because it required the skills of the team to create Alexa. The founder of Yap recounts in an interview how he and his team had to essentially start over. In the end, they were able to make some great developments which led to Amazon’s popular voice-activated product, Alexa.