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Seven Companies Disrupting the AI Space

Artificial intelligence is evolving at an unprecedented rate. Earlier this year, the research firm CB Insights unveiled its AI 100 report, which lists the most promising private companies applying artificial intelligence algorithms across industries, from seed- and angel-round-stage companies to well-funded unicorns. These companies have collectively raised $3.8 billion across 263 deals since 2012. And according to the research firm Markets and Markets, artificial intelligence will be a $5 billion market by 2020.

From healthcare and finance to personal gadgets and business analytics, AI is already revolutionizing how people manage their lives and how organizations run their operations.  Amazon’s Echo has been so broadly adopted in households that even children are starting to depend on Alexa to go about their everyday lives, and IBM’s Watson plays an integral part of hundreds of organizations’ infrastructures in a way that no human being could. Elon Musk made headlines recently with his assertion that the world might end up producing “a fleet of artificial intelligence-enhanced robots capable of destroying mankind.” Although he may have a valid point, we at feel it is important to look at the upside of AI technology as well. Below we have highlighted seven AI startups we think are a positive force in people’s lives.

Orbital Insight

Orbital Insight was founded in 2013 by James Crawford, a technology veteran who was responsible for making the world’s books searchable at Google and who also managed robotics at NASA Ames Research Center. His company is building a geoanalytics platform for ingesting, processing, classifying, and analyzing all types of geospatial data at massive scale — an innovation that can be applied in a variety of industries. In agriculture, for instance, aggregated data of this nature can make it possible to track forests and fields from the sky, can anticipate crop shortages, provide models of future deforestation, and even help insurance claims. With global warming an increasingly potent  global issue, Orbital Insight’s technology can monitor water levels of major bodies around the world, helping the world manage rising seas and better prepare for water shortages. Orbital Insight is based in Palo Alto, CA, and has a team of 80 people. It raised $78 million from leading venture capital firms, including Sequoia Capital and Google Ventures.



DataRobot was founded in 2012 by Thomas DeGodoy and Jeremy Achin, the latter of whom served as director of research and modeling at Travelers Insurance. The company offers a machine-learning platform for data scientists of all skill levels to build and deploy accurate predictive models in a fraction of the time it used to require. The technology aims to address the critical shortage of data scientists by changing the speed and economics of predictive analytics. The DataRobot platform searches through millions of possible combinations of algorithms, pre-processing steps, features, transformations and tuning parameters with the goal of delivering the best models for a given dataset and prediction target. Perhaps the most exciting use case of DataRobot is in the public sector, where critical situations like political unrest, insider threats, network attacks, and natural disasters need to be addressed immediately. The DataRobot platform is able to deliver accurate and actionable insights within minutes, making sure that the government body is mission-prepared 24X7. Based in Boston, MA, DataRobot has more than 200 employees and has raised more than $200 million funding from top VC firms including New Enterprise Associates.


Autonomous vehicle technology company Nauto Brings In $159 Million


Nauto was founded in 2015 by Stefan Heck and Frederick Soo. It is an autonomous vehicle technology system that offers an artificial intelligence-powered connected camera network and smart cloud system. It identifies dangers and alerts drivers, providing coaching and feedback at the end of trips. Nauto’s real-time sensors and visual data help fleet managers detect and understand the causes of accidents and reduce false liability claims. In addition to helping drivers develop safe driving practices, Nauto is able to cut auto-claim costs by up to 80 percent by automatically detecting, recording, and logging collision events. Cities can also learn from Nauto’s data to improve street design, control traffic, and build safer spaces to reduce  fatal accidents. Based in Palo Alto, CA, Nauto has 64 employees and closed $159 million in Series B financing earlier this month from Draper Nexus Ventures, Toyota AI Ventures, BMW i Ventures, General Motors Ventures, SoftBank, and Greylock Partners.



Founded in 2013 by Dmitry Aksenov and Mikhail Naumov, DigitalGenius brings practical applications of deep learning and artificial intelligence into customer service operations of leading companies. Its “Human+AI” customer service platform seeks to combine the best of human and machine intelligence to enable companies to deliver on higher customer expectations. At its core are deep-learning algorithms that are trained on historical customer service transcripts and integrated directly into a contact center’s existing software. Once enabled, the platform automates and increases the quality and efficiency of customer service, supporting conversations across text-based communication channels like email, chat, social media, and mobile messaging. DigitalGenius’ technology stands to reduce long waits and inaccuracies in customer service. Landing test prep provider Magoosh saw its queue of customer requests reduced by half after implementing DigitalGenius’ AI platform and realized its goal of responding to every customer within 24 hours. The London-based startup has close to 50 employees and has raised more than $7 million to date.


BenevolentAI, previously Stratified Medical, was founded in 2013 by the management team of Proximagen, a biotechnology company known for small molecule drug discovery and development. The London-based company’s mission is to harness the power of AI to enhance and accelerate global scientific discovery. With a life science paper being published every 30 seconds and a frustratingly-prolonged FDA approval process, BenevolentAI plans to use AI to speed up drug discovery to the extent that the company says it plans to “sell their own drugs directly in the next four years.“ According to Business Insider, BenevolentAI has signed an $800 million deal with a U.S. pharmaceutical organization to provide  two novel targets for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. In May of this year, the Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience (SITraN) and BenevolentAI announced a potentially major breakthrough in the treatment of Motor Neurone Disease, which was discovered through a combination of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and big data. The company has more than 60 employees and has raised more than $100 million in funding.

Narrative Science

Founded in 2010, Narrative Science is the leader in advanced natural language generation (NLG) for the enterprise. Quill™, its advanced NLG platform, learns and writes like a person, automatically transforming data into intelligent narratives: accurate, conversational communications that are full of audience-relevant information and that provide transparency into how analytic decisions are made. Large enterprise companies, including Credit Suisse, Deloitte, MasterCard, USAA, and members of the U.S. intelligence community, use intelligent narratives to make better business decisions, focus talent on higher value opportunities, and improve communications with their customers. For government agencies that have never had more complex statistics and metrics at their disposal, Narrative Science helps reduce manual spreadsheet tracking and standardize analysis and mandatory intelligence reporting requirements in a fully controlled and compliant manner. Based in Chicago, IL, Narrative Science has 124 employees and raised more than $40 million from venture capital firms, including Jump Capital, Sapphire Ventures, and Battery Ventures.


Enterprise immune system technology startup Darktrace Brings In $75 Million


Founded in 2013 by world-class machine learning specialists and operational government intelligence experts, Darktrace is one of the world’s fastest-growing cyber defense companies and a leader in enterprise immune system technology, a new category of cyber-solutions based on pioneering Bayesian mathematics developed at the University of Cambridge. Darktrace addresses the challenge of insider threats and advanced cyber-attacks through its unique ability to detect previously unidentified threats in real time, as manifested in the emerging behaviors of the network, devices, and individuals. In April, 2017, Darktrace announced that it had secured contracts with a total value of more than $150 million in the first quarter. Its enterprise immune system has detected 30,000 in-progress cyber-threats across 2,400 deployments worldwide, in locales ranging from Vancouver to Melbourne. The company was awarded “Best IT Company of the Year” at the 12th Annual 2017 IT World Awards, and The Wall Street Journal recently included Darktrace among its “Top 25 Companies to Watch” List. With offices in the U.S., U.K., Singapore, Mexico, Italy, and France, Darktrace has a global team of 500 employees and has raised close to $180 million in funding from VC firms such as Insight Venture Partners and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.