UPDATED: In a strange turn of events, multiple media outlets reported Sunday and Monday that Apple has completed its acquisition of Asaii, an A&R-based music-analytics startup, citing an early investor in the company as well as unnamed sources.
However, several hours after the reports were first published, a rep for Apple said the company has “confirmed no such acquisition,” and a report in TechCrunch says that Apple has actually hired the company’s three founders, Sony Theakanath, Austin Chen and Chris Zhang — all of whom are now employed at Apple Music. In short, it appears that Apple has acquired the company’s founders but not its assets.
Asaii announced in September that it will shut down this month, leading to speculation that it was about to be fully acquired. The San Francisco-based firm allows users to “discover, track, and manage talent using machine learning,” and was a finalist in the Midemlab startups competition earlier this year.
Despite Spotify and Apple Music’s insistence that they are not interested in becoming rights-holding entities — i.e. record labels — both companies are moving aggressively, if quietly, into direct licensing deals with artists. The three Asaii founders will likely play a role in that effort.