Richard Socher announced a USD 50 million fund focused on AI-based firms working on verticals like NLP, computer vision, and robotics.

Socher and his co-founder have faith that they are revolutionizing the process by delivering a unique and profound experience.

In a signal that AI startups need little replenishing, Richard Socher, the CEO of You.com and former chief scientist at Salesforce, declared the launch of a USD 50 million fund for AI-focused venture named AIX ventures. In one of his email interactions, Shaun Johnson, co-founder of AIX ventures, along with his colleagues Pieter Abbeel, Anthony Goldbloom, and Chris Manning, said their vision is to make AIX ventures a household name for AI-based venture capital.

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

Socher’s announcement about the funds has come four years after the ramp-up of Google Brain founder Andrew Ng’s own AI tranche – a USD 175 million fund focused on developing new companies. It has also come weeks after ex-Google CEO Eric Schmidt promised to invest USD 125 million into AI research projects via his philanthropic venture. The AI vertical has no shortage of funds. According to a report by Stanford’s Institute for Human-Centered AI (HAI),  private investment in AI more than doubled in 2020 to approximately about USD 93.5 billion.

But Socher and his cofounder have faith that they are revolutionizing the process by delivering a unique and profound experience. Goldbloom is the CEO of Kaggle, a Google-backed firm and one of the world’s most significant data science communities. Abeel, currently a robotics professor at UC Berkeley, is a former researcher at OpenAI before cofounding assignment grading platform Grade scope (acquired by Turnitin in 2018) and industrial robotics company Covariant. Chris Manning leads Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. Last but not least, Johnson recently led the product development at Natural Language Processing (NLP) startup, Lilt.

In October 2021, AIX closed the first tranche — Fund I – and included Socher’s angel portfolio. Johnson claims that AIX Fund 1 has already around 40 portfolio companies, including Hugging face, an NLP startup, Athelas, Weights and amp; Biases, and Time by Ping. Furthermore, they are already working on fund II.

Talking about the way forward to pursue startups, Johnson said that the fund will concentrate on organizations in the seed and pre-seed phases and all the verticals across the AI spectrum, such as NLP, computer vision, and robotics. Furthermore, they are also targeting AI applications in manufacturing, warehousing, Healthcare, SaaS, MLops, data, and consumer. AIX will deliver funds, technical and business guidance, assist with recruiting and strategy, and follow-on fundraising.

Experts view: 

“We believe [that], to be a top AI practitioner, you have to be practicing at the top of the field … Socher, Goldbloom, Abbeel, and Manning have individually proven they can build impressive portfolios. Joining together as a venture firm, and moving on from their angel days, takes their potential for impact to the next level. The AIX investing partners will continue their current roles and will be supported by the full-time AIX team [and] I,” Shaun said.

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