Top AI Executives, Including Richard Socher, Launch AIX Ventures

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In a sign that the treasury of AI startups needs little replenishment, Richard Socher, a former chief scientist at Salesforce and the CEO of You.com, today announced the launch of a $50 million “AI-focused” venture fund called AIX Ventures. . Shaun Johnson, a co-founder of AIX alongside Pieter Abbeel, Anthony Goldbloom and Chris Manning, told VentureBeat via email that the goal is to make AIX a “household name” for AI-focused venture capital.

“There is an opportunity to launch a new venture with some of the world’s foremost opinion leaders, people who have made fundamental contributions to the state-of-the-art,” Johnson said. “These opinion leaders now stand behind AIX with the mission to fund generations of AI-focused entrepreneurs.”

Socher’s fund comes four years after raising Google Brain founder Andrew Ng’s own AI tranche — a $175 million fund focused on building new businesses — and weeks after ex-Google CEO Eric Schmidt pledged $ 125 million to invest in AI research projects through his philanthropic venture. Certainly, there is no shortage of capital in the AI ​​segment, with a recent report from Stanford’s Institute for Human-Centered AI (HAI) showing that private investment in AI more than doubled from 2020 to about $93.5 last year. billion.

But Socher and his co-founders believe they bring distinctive — and deep — experience to the table. Goldbloom is the CEO of Google-backed Kaggle, one of the world’s largest data science communities. Abbeel, a robotics professor at UC Berkeley, was a researcher at OpenAI before co-founding the assessment platform Gradescope (acquired by Turnitin in 2018) and industrial robotics company Covariant. Chris Manning heads the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. And Johnson recently led product development at natural language processing (NLP) startup Lilt.

The first tranche of AIX – Fund I – closed in October 2021 and included Socher’s angel portfolio. AIX Fund I already has about 40 portfolio companies, Johnson claims, including NLP startup Hugging Face, as well as Athelas, Weights & Biases and Time by Ping. Fund II is already under construction.

“We believe [that]To be a top AI practitioner, you have to practice at the top of the field… Socher, Goldbloom, Abbeel and Manning have individually proven that they can build impressive portfolios. Working together as a venture firm and moving forward from their angelic days takes their potential for impact to the next level,” said Shaun. “The AIX investment partners will continue in their current role and will be supported by the full-time AIX -team [and] L.”

As for the startups AIX plans to pursue, Johnson says the fund will target companies in the seed and pre-seed phases and “verticals across the AI ​​spectrum,” including in NLP, computer vision and robotics. . With a view to AI applications in manufacturing, storage, healthcare, software-as-a-service, MLops, data and consumers, AIX will provide capital as well as business and technical guidance, recruitment and strategy assistance, and follow-up fundraising .

†[W]See the magnitude of the impact AI will have on humanity. At the same time, the technology is just getting started,” Johnson said. “We have decades of significant progress ahead of us.”

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