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Greece on the Meta map: Facebook owner to acquire AI audio startup Accusonus and build a Metaverse R&D center

Alexandros Tsiflidis and Elias Kokkinis, co-founders of Accusonus
Image credit: Alexandros Tsiflidis and Elias Kokkinis, co-founders of Accusonus
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Meta, the parent company of Facebook, steps in Greece. This week Accusonus, a Greek-founded audio applications development company, gets acquired by Meta in a deal of undisclosed amount that is estimated between €70M and €100M. The deal is not officially confirmed by Meta spokespeople, nor by the founders of Accusonus. The startup didn’t respond to The Recursive request to comment either. But insiders cited by Reuters say that the acquisition will be finalized and announced by the end of this week.  

According to some sources, Meta Platforms is also in contact with the Greek government to discuss setting up a subsidiary (Meta Hellas) in Greece with the goal to transfer some of Meta’s employees from other parts of the world there. Reportedly, Meta plans to establish a Metaverse R&D center in the country with a total investment of up to $200M. 

The news marks a third major development for the Greek ecosystem that is related to the increasing American presence and interest in local engineering talent and tech businesses. After the partial acquisition of Viva Wallet by J.P Morgan, and the acquisition of Pollfish by the US company Prodege, the acquisition of Accusonus by Meta has additional significance as it brings another global leader in the country. 

What makes Accusonus’s AI audio and video solutions attractive to Meta

Founded in 2013 by Alexandros Tsiflidis, Elias Kokkinis, and Michael Tzannes, Accusonus is one of the world’s pioneers in the development of AI in digital music production and processing. The company develops its own patented Machine Learning and AI technology to enable audio and video professionals and non-professionals to directly repair the sound in their videos. With the help of the algorithms, the final audio sounds as if it has been shot in a professional studio.

Up until now, it has raised around $4M from Greek venture capital firms VentureFriends, Big Pi Ventures, and PJ Tech Catalyst, the Greek corporate angel fund IQbility, as well as some angel investors. The company has partnered with Adobe, and its solutions have been used by Grammy-winning producers. With a team of almost 50 people, Accusonus has two Greek offices in Athens and Patras, and one headquarters office in Massachusetts.

Read more:  SEE founders predict the tech trends of 2022

Facebook’s metaverse ambitions in EU

Days before Mark Zuckerberg officially introduced Meta at the Connect 2021 Conference at the end of October 2021, he announced that Facebook planned to create 10 000 jobs in the European Union over the next five years to use to build the metaverse. More specifically, in the official press release, Facebook shared that it aims to put the region at the heart of the company’s plans to help build the metaverse. 

Facebook has been investing in European engineering talent over the years by funding grants at technical universities, opening a European AI research lab and FAIR accelerator program as well as a Facebook Reality Labs office in Ireland. Long before the whole metaverse narrative, Facebook has been eyeing VR startups in CEE and even acquired some. The last one of these is the Czech VR gaming development company Beat Games which Facebook acquired in November 2019. 

Meanwhile, the Greek government is pursuing a tech-led economic development strategy as it aims to expand its economy away from tourism and attract strategic business investments. The government efforts put in that direction seem to be fruitful as three of the other Big Five Tech Giants – Microsoft, Amazon, and Google have already built their presence among engineering talent in the country. Other international tech leaders with R&D centers in Greece are Nokia, IBM, Atos, Samsung, and Tesla. 

 

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Elena is an Innovation Reporter at The Recursive, an online media dedicated to the emerging tech and startup ecosystems in Southeast Europe. She is keen on sharing the innovation stories that shape the regional ecosystem and has a great interest in fintech, IoT, and biotech startups. Elena is currently finishing her Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration and Political Science at the American University in Bulgaria.