Two sorts of AI generally come to mind whenever someone mentions artificial intelligence. It’s either (a), the malevolent kind exemplified by Hal 9000, Skynet, and GLaDOS, or (b), the dutiful and charming ones along the lines of Jarvis, R2D2, and Marvin the Paranoid Android.
Okay, so it’s mostly the former, but throwing the robot rebellion angle aside for a while you’d see that in all cases AI is an immense innovation, a breakthrough with near-unlimited potential, so it’s really no surprise that VCs have pumping a lot of money in AI startups the past six years.
Here are five of the most active VCs in artificial intelligence since 2010, ranked according to deal count, via Pitchbook:
5. In-Q-Tel, 8 deals. Originally named Peleus and known as In-Q-It, In-Q-Tel is a not-for-profit venture capital firm based in Virginia which invests in companies for the CIA, the DIA, and other intelligence-related acronyms. Among the AI companies In-Q-Tel has invested in are MindMeld and Narrative Science.
4. AME Cloud Ventures, 11 deals. AME Cloud Ventures is the seed-to later-stage fund of Yahoo founder Jerry Yang. AI companies that it has backed include Nervana Systems and Osaro.
3. Intel Capital, 12 deals. Intel Capital is, unsurprisingly, Intel’s venture capital arm. Among the 12 artificial intelligence companies the decades-old firm has invested in are Lumiata and Precision Hawk.
2. Khosla Ventures, 12 deals. Founded in 2004 by Sun Microsystems co-founder Vinod Khosla, Khosla Ventures is an early-stage venture firm focused mostly on internet, computing, mobile, and clean technology companies. It holds quite a few AI companies in its portfolio, including Cylance and Zebra.
1. Data Collective, 13 deals. Arguably one of the more interesting VC firms in the group, Data Collective is a relatively small venture firm which invests primarily in “data scientists and entrepreneurs working on hard big data problems,” as per its website. The California-based firm has backed AI startups including Vicarious Systems and SigOpt.
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Photo: Alberto Racatumba