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Signage for the Google Assistant is displayed during CES 2018. Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Google has quietly acquired Superpod, a startup that had built a question-and-answer mobile app, Axios has learned. Google paid less than $60 million to “acqui-hire” the founders and purchase some of Superpod's assets, according to a source.

The bigger picture: The search giant hasn’t been shy about its ambitions for Google Assistant, the voice-activated virtual assistant that it debuted in 2016. Superpod, which lets users ask questions and receive answers from experts, could help Google bolster its virtual assistant’s ability to answer users’ questions.

  • Superpod isn’t the first to tackle this concept — Twitter co-founder Biz Stone’s startup Jelly had a similar concept, though the company ultimately sold to Pinterest in 2017 and folded.
  • Jelly’s premise was that there was still a need for human answers to people’s questions, something that became evident through social media, where users frequently “crowdsource” answers from others.

A Google spokesperson confirmed that Superpod’s founders have joined the company but declined to comment further about the deal. Superpod shut down its app in September.

Background: Superpod.io (formerly known as Sparks) was founded by ex-Google employees Sophia Yang and William Li in 2016, according to Pitchbook, and raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding from Precursor Ventures, Charlie Cheever, Social Capital, and the House Fund, per AngelList.

Go deeper

In photos: Tokyo Olympics day 9 highlights

Team USA's Ryan Murphy, Zach Apple, Michael Andrew and Caeleb Dressel celebrate winning gold in the final of the men's 4x100m medley relay swimming event during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre in Tokyo on Aug. 1. Photo: Odd Andersen/AFP via Getty Images

Day nine of the Tokyo Olympic Games Sunday saw the final day of swimming competition end with a historic win for Team USA.

The big picture: The U.S. men's 4x100-meter medley relay team set a new record world as they won the final and Caeleb Dressel earned a fifth gold — becoming the fifth American to do so. Team USA's Bobby Finke won the 1,500-meter freestyle.

Trump PACs raise over $82M for first half of 2021

Former President Trump during the Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas, Texas, on July 11. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Former President Trump's political action committees (PACs) raised more than $82 million in the first half of 2021, per Federal Election Commission filings published on Saturday.

Why it matters: It's a significant amount for a former president who's been banned from major social media platforms. It demonstrates his ability to raise huge sums of money should he choose to run for the presidency for a third time.

Updated 6 hours ago - Sports

Olympics dashboard

Team USA's Caeleb Dressel celebrates winning gold in the final of the men's 50m freestyle swimming event at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Gameson Sunday. Photo: Odd Andersen/AFP via Getty Images

🚨: Simone Biles won't compete in Olympic floor finals, individual vault or uneven bars

🏊: U.S. wins gold in men's 4x100-meter medley relay, earning Caeleb Dressel fifth gold — American Bobby Finke wins gold in men's 1,500-meter freestyle

🏊‍♀️: Katie Ledecky wins gold in women's 800m freestyle

🏌️‍♂️: Golfer Xander Schauffele wins gold for U.S. by one shot

🇬🇧: Britain wins gold in new BMX freestyle category and gold in first-ever Olympic mixed 4x100m medley relay

📷: In photos: Tokyo Olympics day 9 highlights

🏳️‍⚧️: Axios at the Olympics: Games grapple with trans athletesTrans athletes see the Tokyo Games as a watershed moment

Go deeper: Full Axios coverage