September 5th, 2019

Startup Aims to Democratize AI

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Adam Janofsky at the Wall Street Journal wrote a wonderful article about our company, and our eloquent and philosophical CEO and Founder, Sri Ambati. The makers at H2O.ai believe deeply in our mission to democratize AI for everyone, and we can see a future where every company can be an AI company. Read more below, and enjoy!

 

Startup Aims to Democratize AI

H2O.ai, which has raised $72.5 million in new financing, argues that every company should be an AI company.


Sri Ambati, chief executive and founder of H2O.ai Inc., speaking Wednesday at the Ai4 Finance conference in New York. PHOTO: ADAM JANOFSKY/THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

NEW YORK – An artificial-intelligence startup with a new influx of funding wants to make AI accessible to businesses that don’t have data scientists on their teams.

“Our vision is to make every company an AI company,” Sri Ambati, chief executive and founder of H2O.ai Inc., said Wednesday at the Ai4 Finance conference in Midtown Manhattan.

On Tuesday, the company said it raised $72.5 million in a round led by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Ping An Global Voyager Fund, with continued investments from Wells Fargo & Co., Nvidia Corp. and Nexus Venture Partners.

H2O.ai, based in Mountain View, Calif., has raised a total of $147 million since it was founded in 2012.

The company sells software that helps businesses incorporate machine learning into their applications to make them more predictive. Its machine-learning platform is used by more than 18,000 companies, including Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc., which uses it to price retail goods, and Capital One Financial Corp. , which uses it to help detect fraud, Mr. Ambati said. The platform offers a set of tools that are designed to simplify AI for nonexperts, and can be used for a range of applications.

Walgreens and Capital One didn’t respond to requests for comment on Wednesday.

Mr. Ambati, who often wears a driving cap, positions himself as a distinctive technologist who isn’t afraid of mixing philosophy with business. In Wednesday’s presentation, Mr. Ambati read a haiku and quoted T.S. Eliot and the ancient Chinese text “I Ching” to a room of about 250 listeners.

“The only renewable resource in the world is love, and love can break the barrier of time,” he said, adding, “What is love really? It’s about perfect comprehension. The more we learn about something, the closer we are to the truth.”

In addition to founding H2O.ai, Mr. Ambati co-founded big-data analytics company Platfora Inc., which was acquired by Workday Inc. in 2016.

H2O.ai licenses its products to companies and charges them based on the number of users. It has tripled its customers over the past year-and-a-half, Mr. Ambati said.

“Our mission is to create a diverse set of AI juggernauts,” he said. “We want to empower a lot of entrepreneurs with AI.”

Write to Adam Janofsky at adam.janofsky@wsj.com

About the Author

Ingrid Burton
Ingrid Burton

Ingrid Burton was the CMO at H2O.ai, the open source leader in AI and machine learning. She has several decades of experience leading global marketing teams to build brands, create demand, and engage and grow communities. She also serves as an independent director on the Extreme Networks board. Prior to H2O.ai she was CMO at Hortonworks, where she drove a brand and marketing transformation, and created ecosystem programs that positioned the company for growth. At SAP she co-created the Cloud strategy, led SAP HANA and Analytics marketing, and drove developer outreach. She also served as CMO at Silver Spring Networks and Plantronics after spending almost 20 years at Sun Microsystems, where she was head of Sun marketing, led Java marketing to build out a thriving Java developer community, championed and led open source initiatives, and drove various product and strategic initiatives. A developer early in her career, Ingrid holds a BA in Math with a concentration in Computer Science from San Jose State University.

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