According to Business Insider, during the first two quarters of 2018, US AI startups have collected over $1.9 billion of venture capital. It proves the huge power of AI sector and the immense potential held by the startups in the field.
Nothing’s in stone yet. Still, there are some ambitious startups we all should be watching closely. It may as well be that they will be calling the shots and taking a lead on AI development in the next dozen of years.
What industries got the biggest checks?
As far as venture investments go, it’s hard to determine one destination amongst AI-related startups that will be most exciting for investors. Looking at reports, one can see a huge growth of investments in deep learning applications.
Investors have also written some big checks for companies working in:
- Autonomous vehicles development;
- Predictive analytics tool;
- Robotics automation.
- Virtual assistants;
- Natural Language Processing.
The leaders by investments in Q1 and Q2 of 2018
Over the first half of the year, over $2 billion was already invested into AI startups. Let’s take a look who got those checks.
Funding: $153 million dollars;
About the company: an automation company that helps businesses from different industries automate their processes. There are over 700 people working at UiPath at the moment. The main office of the company is located in NYC.
What media say: TechCrunch informs that the investment UiPath got from Axcel is needed to “seize the RPA possibility.” Investors are positive regarding the growth rate of the company, comparing it to more solid companies like Slack, Quatrics, or Atlassian that were previously backed up by Axcel.
In a Forbes article, UiPath was named one of most successful companies to bring “hot automation technologies destroying and creating jobs” to life. Business Insider has called this Romanian startup a “leader in automation tasks” mentioning the fact that it will “put the region on the map for investors”.
Funding: $112 million
About the company: the focus of Pony.ai is developing solutions for autonomous vehicles. After rolling out their first self-driven vehicle in 2017, Pony.ai has landed a few major investors, Chinese Sequoia Capital in particular.
What media say: TechCrunch article about the startup entitled “One-year-old Pony.ai raises $112 million Series A to build autonomous car future”, has stated that such an investment has made the company a frontrunner in their niche — designing self-driven vehicles.
Overall, if Pony.ai got such a huge investment over the course of a single year, one can only imagine how the company will develop later if they keep the impressive pace.
3. C3 IoT
Funding: $100 million
About the company: C3 IoT is a startup that develops Internet of Things solutions using cold-native model-driven architecture. C3 IoT’s software allows data analysts, developers, and so on to easily deploy IoT driven solution.
Interestingly enough, a few could anticipate that the startup will be a promising one for investors after the company has nearly died in 2017. According to Business Insider, the reason of a crisis was the fact that the owner, a billionaire Tom Siegel, has “wheel-chaired himself to meetings”.
Funding: $92 million
About the company: the ambitious task Nuro plans to bring to life is revolutionizing delivery for local shops and stores. Instead of using big delivery trucks as it’s been done before, a company will use a car that has a size of a motorcycle and is fully autonomous.
The mission statement of Nuro is “delivering the future of local commerce, autonomously”.
What media say: TechCrunch points out Nuro’s “neat product and interesting vision” not forgetting to point out, meanwhile, that the startup is still in its early days. Making a review of the company and its product, The Verge, among others, noticed that the timing for the startup couldn’t have been better.
The company hasn’t gained such solid grounds as some of those we’ve listed above (like UiPath). Still, with the strong leadership at the steering wheel, Nuro delivery cars have every chance to become “the new black”.
Funding: $80 million
About the company: while most companies that got investment are aimed to revolutionize commerce and business, TempusLabs has a different goal. The founder’s main concern and a company’s mission statement as well is to make use of all the data that is going to waste in a modern healthcare system.
Tempus Labs team aims to lay grounds for data-driven precision medicine. So far, the company’s focus is mostly on cancer treatment. However, if the development stage goes as planned, they might be aiming to treat more diseases with the help of AI.
What media say: Tech Crunch points out that Tempus is chasing a competitive yet lucrative market. While the mission statement of Tempus is, at no doubt, appealing to investors, developing the company is still a huge risk. It’s quite obvious, though, that Eric Lefkovsky, the founder of Tempus and, earlier, Groupon, with his reputation worth of approximately $2.2 billion, can handle the pressure.
In the first two quarters of the year, there were already enough major acquisitions of AI startups by bigger companies. Let’s take a look at most impressive ones so far:
1. Kngine acquired by Samsung
On March 11, it was announced that Korean-based electronics giant is acquiring an Egyptian AI-driven startup. Being a huge achievement for Haytham and Ashraf El Hadeel, the creators of Kngine, it’s also a big deal for the region itself.
Earlier, it’s been pointed out by multiple national and international editorials that Egyptian startups struggle to collaborate with major investors.
About Kngine: the startup is focused on developing an intelligent search engine that “understands” questions and can automate customer service a great deal. The company was founded in Egypt in 2009.
While there are still venture investments to pay off to other investors, overall, Kngine founders can consider Kngine acquisition by Samsung a big achievement.
2. Digital Signal Corporation acquired by StereoVision
The reason why the leader of 3D face recognition is acquiring Digital Signal is to have access to their groundbreaking LIDAR technology. Seizing LIDAR will allow StereoVision to expand the area of their solutions and introduce new applications for military, business, and other purposes.
About Digital Signal Corporation: it is one of the leaders of human recognition. It has developed revolutionary proprietary software alongside LIDAR-based sensors and other patents that are trailblazing regarding human identification.
By acquiring Digital Signal, StereoVision gets the right to use their patents which is a huge breakthrough for the company and a significant push in the quality of its military solutions.
There were some other acquisitions of AI-based startups like:
- Incoming media acquired by OVO;
- Kensho acquired by S&P Global;
- E8 Security acquired by VMware.
Only a half of 2018 went by, and the AI market is perhaps more active than ever. Hope the pace will get only even more exciting and we’ll see more revolutionizing AI startups calling the shots on the global scale.