Artificial Intelligence – Fortnightly VC roundup

This week has seen a total of USD 144 million in reported investments in the Artificial Intelligence stories of 5 companies. There’s an AI grammar checker in Grammarly which takes grammar checking several notches above what we see in MS Word, and the very  basic, and not so value add Hemingway Writer. Mya Systems’ AI recruiter is taking the recruiting teams by storm, and even though it’s only a year old, their AI solution has found a string footing in the Industry with MoM growth of 28%. We have Bitfusion, a software platform for providing end-to-end solution in AI development, training and deployment which would bucket it under the software and infrastructure category. Qordoba is taking on the challenge of localization with it’s AI Avatar and is finding the answer to the question “Why isn’t every product in every language?” and has a technology solution in place which can take your product or service global.

Grammarly – world’s most accurate grammar checker

The biggest one has been in Grammarly, a massive infusion of $ 110 million in this San Francisco based company, which provides an AI based communication assistant that helps correct grammar and typos in word processing. While General Catalyst led the funding, checks also came in from Breyer CapitalIVPSignalFire, and Spark Capital. This is what General Catalyst had to say about Grammarly:

“Millions of people rely on Grammarly each day to make their messages, documents and social media posts clear, mistake-free and effective. Grammarly’s goal is to help people communicate exactly what they mean and fully understood.”

As per Bill Winterberg, an Atlanta based journalist, “The service goes beyond the basic spell check and grammar check built into the word processor, as Grammarly can identify correctly spelled words that are used in the wrong context.” Grammarly touts itself as the world’s most accurate grammar checker.

The deal was brought in by Hemant Taneja, Managing Director at General Catalyst whose investment thesis is based on a overall view that 21st century businesses with thrive on Economies of Unscale, and there is an incredible opportunity to redesign most application workflows with first principles. An impressive catalog of investments, and what keeps me drooling here at The Knowledge Sausage is his mind boggling five degrees from MIT.

Grammarly’s business model is based on the freemium model where the free model provides basic grammar check and paid addition provides better sentence structure. But more on that later when we do a profile on Grammarly this week, but for now I know that the Hemingway Writer is a bye bye for me at The Knowledge Sausage. Hemingway is far too basic, and does not cater to the core aspects of a good writing the way I would expect it to. The features in there are also quite basic.

Mya – The AI Recruiter

We have an AI recruiter in Mya Systems that raised $11.4 million in Series A funding led by Emergence Capital, and is it’s first investment in Artificial Intelligence. Mya Systems is the creator of the AI – Recruiter Mya, an intelligent assistant that uses conversational AI to transform the application and hiring experience for candidates and recruiters. As reported by the PE Hub Network“despite zero marketing investment since launching, demand for Mya has grown 26 percent MoM, particularly among retail, light industrial and call center employees.” In-focus with this investment is Gordon Ritter, Founder and General Partner of  Emergence Capital who led the firm’s first investment in in 2003, who thinks that “The next generation of software will use AI to coach workers to do more than they ever thought possible.”

Qordoba – Global Local

Qordoba, a machine-learning solution for localization, has raised $5 million in Series A funding from Upfront Ventures and Rincon Venture Partners

Qordoba’s technology allows users and machines to interact with and extract intention from natural language and data. At the heart of Qordoba’s mission is to create technology that allows users and machines to interact with and extract intention from natural language and data.

AI – Platform Technology Solutions

Vanedge Capital led a $5 million Series A funding round in Bitfusion, provider of end-to-end solution focused on the unique needs around AI development, training, and deployment. The core product in focus her is Bitfusion Flex, a software product that removes the complexity of clustering, sharing and scaling deep learning infrastructure, making the delivery of artificial intelligence (AI) applications faster and more economical, as stated in the Press ReleaseVanedge Capital was joined by a new investor Sierra Ventures, and existing investors Data CollectiveResonant Venture Partners, and Geekdom.

Finally we have Bonsai, a provider of an AI platform that empowers enterprises to build and deploy intelligent systems. The Berkeley, California based company raised $7.6 million from Microsoft Ventures, and New Enterprise Associates, who lead the round with participation from ABB Technology Ventures, Samsung NEXT and Siemens. The Bonsai Platform allows enterprises in industries such as robotics, manufacturing, retail, logistics, and energy to jointly design, build and deploy AI models. Press Release

Overall some sweet deals for the Venture Capital community and an education sorts for us to check out the interesting AI plays and stories out there in the market. Hook on to Knowledge Sausage to get more updates on Artificial Intelligence and the fortnightly deal updates.