The 5 Biggest Artificial Intelligence Startups

January 16. 2017. 4 mins read

You may have heard us talk about CB Insights before. What CB Insights does is provide a huge database of private company information that is collected using artificial intelligence. They then sell this data to 100s of firms that need accurate data. Sure, you can go pay $50 a month to Crunchbase and get private company data but you’re getting crowdsourced data as opposed to data collected by AI agents and cleansed by people that don’t live in Mumbai. Just recently, CB Insights held their Innovation Summit and one of the outputs from that event was a list of the top 100 artificial intelligence startups determined by a whole slew of useful metrics:

We’ve talked about a fair number of these companies already, and we’re already sharpening our pencils to make sure that we profile each and every one of them as fast as our little big hands can type. What we thought would be useful to do is to take a look at the top-5 companies in this list by valuation. The way this works is that you can value a startup based on the price a venture capital firm is willing to pay for a certain percentage of equity. If you sold 10% of your company for $100 million then your implied valuation would be $1 billion. We call a startup with a $1 billion valuation a unicorn. In the AI 100 produced by CB Insights, there are exactly 5 unicorns. Here they are.

Company Valuation (Billions) Became Unicorn  Country Focus
Zoox 1.55 5/27/2016 USA Autonomous taxis
UBTECH 1 7/26/2016 China Robots
Benevolent.ai 1 6/2/2015 UK Drug Discovery
Insidesales.com 1.5 4/28/2014 USA Big Data for Selling
iCarbonX 1 4/12/2016 China Healthcare

Let’s take a close look at each one of these artificial intelligence startups valued at $1 billion or more.

Chinese Healthcare

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Founded in late 2015, Chinese startup iCarbonX which has taken in nearly $600 million in funding so far with the intent of “digitalizing everyone’s life information”. We talked about iCarbonX before when they were featured in our article on “The Top-5 Artificial Intelligence Companies in Healthcare“. Since that article, iCarbonX has signed up seven companies to join their “Digital Life Alliance”. They also unveiled their digital health management platform called “Meum” which now needs to be populated with people’s genetic data. The key is getting people to give up that data.  This doesn’t seem that different to what Illumina is trying to do with their Helix venture that aspires to become the world’s biggest DNA database. In an article published by Nature last week, founder Jun Wang claims that, in addition to the publicly stated $200 million in funding that CB Insights states, iCarbonX has taken in an additional $400 million in funding from partners making his company the most funded artificial intelligence startup yet.

An Autonomous Taxi

Founded in 2014, Silicon Valley startup Zoox has taken in $290 million as they operate in stealth mode to develop their autonomous taxi that can drive both forwards and backwards. We wrote about them over the summer and since then they haven’t said anything much. Why does Zoox need so much cash? We speculated why in an article we wrote about “What a Driverless Taxi Company Will Look Like“. Producing self driving taxis is only half the battle, and there’s a lot more capital that needs to go into the infrastructure to run them. Since our last article on Zoox, they took a $50 million funding round in October 2016 bringing their total amount of funding taken in to $290 million. They claimed to not even need that last funding round but wanted to capitalize on strong investor interest and make hay while the sun shines.

Selling Better

Click for company websiteFounded in 2004, Utah startup InsideSales.com has taken in a total of $201 million in funding to develop Neuralytics, their “sales acceleration platform” powered by artificial intelligence. Using a database of over 100 billion sales transactions, Neuralytics can do things like tell you when people are most likely to answer their phones which can increase contact rates by over 300%. The website is rife with clichés like “create high-performance sales teams with breakthrough technology” and “help your teams work smarter”  though they appear to back these claims up with solid functionality like “gamification” and “predictive analytics” that tie in external data sources to their massive database of sales transactions. Not surprisingly, both Microsoft and Salesforce.com are investors.

Chinese Robots

Founded in 2012, Chinese startup UBTECH has taken in $120 million so far to develop their line of robots. We coveredClick for company website UBTECH before in an article on humanoid robots in which we noted that they produced a home robot that teaches you yoga along with lots of educational robot kits for kids that see a future career tending to their robotic overlords. There is this big electronics expo called CES which just concluded, and in that conference they unveiled a few new robots including a humanoid robot powered by Alexa called Lynx and a service robot called Cruzr. In our article on Chinese startup Roobo yesterday, we talked about the huge domestic market in China for consumer electronics that foreign companies have a hard time penetrating. When Chinese company Foxconn replaces 60,000 human workers with robots, there’s no doubt China is serious about becoming a leader in robotics.

Developing Drugs Faster

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Founded in 2013, British startup BenevolentAI has taken in $100 million in funding to work on bringing drugs to market faster using artificial intelligence. According to FierceBiotech, they were the first European firm to buy one of the new NVidia DGX-1 deep learning supercomputers. According to an article in the FT, BenevolentAI deep learning algorithms already found two new potential drug targets for Alzheimer’s which an unidentified U.S. drugmaker signed on for in a deal worth up to $800 million. They’ve also acquired some clinical stage drug candidates from Johnson & Johnson which are expected to enter Phase IIb clinical trials in mid-2017.

So there you have the 5 biggest artificial intelligence startups by valuation as of mid-January 2017. Stay tuned as we power our way through the rest of these artificial intelligence startups and provide you with unique insights to help you make more informed investment decisions.


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