Deep learning is all the rage these days in enterprise circles, and it isn't hard to understand why. Whether it is optimizing ad spend, finding new drugs to cure cancer, or just offering better, more intelligent products to customers, machine learning -- and particularly deep learning models -- have the potential to massively improve a range of products and applications. The key word though is'potential.' While we have heard oodles of words sprayed across enterprise conferences the last few years about deep learning, there remain huge roadblocks to making these techniques widely available. Deep learning models are highly networked, with dense graphs of nodes that don't "fit" well with the traditional ways computers process information.
AI is in full gold rush mode. Every day we hear headlines of AI companies raising vast sums of capital to give them the resources to prospect the veins of AI gold. The money is flowing to these new frontiers. In the US venture capital funding for AI grew 72% year over year to a whopping $9.3B in 2018. Dataminr, a New York based AI and machine learning company that makes sense of news and information in real time, raised US$392 million in 2018, for example.
Wayve, a U.K.-based startup that's developing artificial intelligence (AI) that teaches cars to drive autonomously using reinforcement learning, simulation, and computer vision, has raised $20 million in a series A round of funding led by Palo Alto venture capital (VC) firm Eclipse Ventures, with participation from Balderton Capital, Compound Ventures, Fly Ventures, and First Minute Capital. Several notable angel investors also participated in the round, including Uber's chief scientist Zoubin Ghahramani and Pieter Abbeel, a UC Berkeley robotics professor and pioneer of deep reinforcement learning. Founded out of Cambridge, U.K., in 2017, Wayve's core premise is that the big breakthrough in self-driving cars will come from better AI brains rather than more sensors or "hand-coded" rules. The company said that it trains its autonomous driving system using simulated environments and then transfers that knowledge into the real world, where it emulates how humans adapt to conditions in real time. Wayve's systems learn from each safety driver intervention to understand why the driver had to intervene, bypassing HD maps, lidar, and other sensors that have become synonymous with the burgeoning autonomous vehicle movement.
Boston-based network security and UX design company LogRocket has secured $15 million in Series B funding, according to company database Crunchbase, topping the city's recent funding headlines. The cash infusion was announced Nov. 7. According to its Crunchbase profile, "LogRocket helps product teams develop better experiences for users by recording videos of user sessions with logs and network data. It identifies UX problems and reveals the root cause of every bug. LogRocket presents impactful errors on a website, and how to reproduce it."
Ekincare, an artificial intelligence-based healthcare startup, has raised $3.6 million (Rs 25.81 crore at current exchange rates) in a Series A funding round led by a new investor. The latest funding takes the total capital that ekincare, operated by Aayuv Technologies Pvt. Ltd, has raised so far to $5.6 million, the company said in a statement on Wednesday. It didn't disclose the name of the new investor. Other investors that participated in the funding round include existing investors such as venture capital firm Venture East, Eight Roads Ventures and Hyderabad-based Touchstone Equities.
Freshworks, a company that provides customer service software and automation tools for businesses, has confirmed that it's raising $150 million in a series H round of funding co-led by Alphabet's CapitalG, Sequioa Capital, and Accel. This takes the company's total funding to nearly $400 million and follows its $100 million series G round last July that included the same three investors. This time around, however, Freshworks is valued at $3.5 billion, more than double its previous valuation. It's worth noting that Freshworks hasn't officially closed the fresh round of funding yet, having merely signed "definitive agreements" with the aforementioned investors -- it doesn't expect the financing to close until the end of the year. It appears the reason Freshworks preannounced the funding was due to a leak last week on an Indian news site via anonymous sources.
"We lived and breathed data science," DataRobot CEO Jeremy Achin says of himself and his cofounder ... [ ] Tom de Godoy. "And we asked ourselves, 'How would we automate our jobs?'" DataRobot wants to make machine learning so simple that a business analyst with basic training can run predictive models without breaking a sweat. The Boston-based startup just raised a $206 million Series E funding round led by Sapphire Ventures to expand the business, which sells software that helps companies across industries develop and deploy in-house AI models. The billion-dollar valuation makes it the highest-ranking of the "picks-and-shovels" startups featured on Forbes' inaugural AI 50 list (meaning the companies that provide tools to help their customers develop their own AI).
Chicago-based legal and compliance company Ascent has secured $19 million in Series B funding, according to company database Crunchbase, topping the city's recent funding headlines. The cash infusion was announced Nov. 5 and led by Drive Capital. According to its Crunchbase profile, "Ascent provides a cloud-based platform that helps financial services firms to keep their businesses compliant. Its platform analyzes business activities, informs about potential compliance obligations and assists in tracking and complying with relevant requirements. Ascent's cloud-based solutions include issue tracking and management, industry reference and research materials and compliance manual documentation."
AiCure, a nearly decade-old startup using artificial intelligence to measure medication adherence and other behavior during clinical trials or normal care, has brought in $24.5 million in Series C funding. Palisades Growth Capital led the raise, which also featured new backers Singtel Innov8, Asahi Kasei Corporation, Accelmed Growth Partners, and SpringRock Ventures. The round also included all of the company's existing institutional investors: Baird Capital, New Leaf Venture Partners, the Pritzker Group, Biomatics Capital, Tribeca Venture Partners, and Silicon Valley Bank. AiCure's interactive medical assistant, or IMA, collects visual and audio data from patients to quantify their engagement with a treatment program, allowing the tool to identify patients who are at higher risk of dropout or non-adherence. While care providers can use these capabilities to better target their therapies and cut off preventable medical costs, drug developers can also use these trends to hone in on underperforming trial sites identify enrollees who are deliberately not participating.
Stealth fintech startup Digits, from the same team that built Crashlytics to scale then sold to Twitter for more than $100 million, has raised a $10.5 million round of Series A funding, the company is announcing today. The round was led by Benchmark and has the backing of 72 angels, including founders and CEOs from companies like Box, GitHub, Tinder, Twitch, StitchFix, SoFi and several others. With the round, Digits also gains a new board member, Peter Fenton, who has served on the boards at AirTable, Twitter, NewRelic, Yelp and elsewhere. The funding is a big bet on serial entrepreneurs Wayne Chang and Jeff Seibert, who launched and sold their crash reporting service to Twitter, which itself later sold it to Google. At Twitter, the team remained to build out the product and launch new services, like Answers.