Legendary Pictures CEO and billionaire Thomas Tull has joined the millennial app Blend as a strategic investor, the company said Monday.
The size of Tull’s investment was not disclosed, nor was that of fellow Hollywood entity and new investor Management 360, but the app has attracted show business cash in the past — like CAA’s venture capital unit, which was an investor in two previous rounds of funding.
Blend announced Tull and 360’s involvement in conjunction with an ambitious new feature they’re calling “Genies” — a program with hundreds of “chat bots” that consumers can use in daily conversation.
Bots in the release include those themed around celebrities like Kanye West, Justin Bieber and Kylie Jenner, as well as presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, and even brands like Fitbit.
But what’s a chat bot, anyway?
“Chat bots are computer programs that mimic conversation with people using artificial intelligence,” explained The Guardian in April. “They can transform the way you interact with the internet from a series of self-initiated tasks to a quasi-conversation.”
In a release, Blend described them as engines that “deliver ‘magical notifications’ or curated content pulled from social platforms, the web and diverse data sources.”
The bots — which, admittedly, are cute — are deployed by users in the app (see a video demonstration below).
“While platforms like Kik and Facebook Messenger are focused on using bots to monetize their platforms, we’re focused solely on the consumer with no ulterior motives,” Akash Nigam, Blend’s CEO, said.
“Blend created a ‘mainstream bot’ that has a daily value proposition. Every group chat with family, friends or co-workers has a handful of shared interests that serve as frequent conversation topics,” he added.
Tull’s Legendary sold to China’s Dalian Wanda Group for a staggering $3.5 billion in January, one of several high-profile forays into show business the company has made in 2016 alone. Tull counts early investments in other buzzy tech start-ups like Pinterest and Oculus Rift which resulted in a lucrative spinoff sale to Facebook.