Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Posts Tagged ‘startups

Robots Never Die

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I have personally been looking forward to the age of robots and artificial intelligence. Despite all the advances we’ve made in science and technology in the last few centuries, we seem to still be on the verge of living in a populist, nationalist, non-science driven dystopia.

I want my robots.

But I’m not apparently going to be getting them from Anki, a “once-hot” robotics startup that is shutting down after raising more than $200M.

Recode’s coverage indicated that close to 200 employees of the company would be paid a week of severance, and that CEO Boris Sofman had told employees the company was scrambling to find more money after a new round of financing fell through.

Anki had produced consumer robots like “Cozmo,” but had also raised what Recode described as “serious money” from the likes of Andreesen Horowitz.

The company said in a statement to Recode that it was left “without significant funding to support a hardware and software business and bridge to our long-term product roadmap.”
“Despite our past successes, we pursued every financial avenue to fund our future product development and expand on our platforms,” a company spokesperson said. “A significant financial deal at a late stage fell through with a strategic investor and we were not able to reach an agreement. We’re doing our best to take care of every single employee and their families, and our management team continues to explore all options available.”

Anki robots had been popular at stores like Toys R Us, but had more recently attempted to pivot from toys to a “developed robotics” company based on AI.

Company employees were being given only a week of severance pay. As for the company robots still lying around? I hope somebody removed their power source!

Written by turbotodd

April 30, 2019 at 9:16 am

Posted in 2019, AI, startups

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Keep on Truckin’

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10-4, good buddy.  You got a bear on your back door and your comic book is full.  I’m 10 and on the side.

That’s about all the CB talk I’m good for, but KeepTruckin is good for plenty more.

The developer of both hardware and software that helps truck drivers manage their vehicles and cargo has raised $149 million in Series D funding, with Greenoaks Capital leading the round and including participation from GV, IVP, Index Ventures, and Scale Venture Partners.

According to a report in TechCrunch, this Series D round values KeepTruckin at $1.25B, and the company was founded in 2013 and has garned some 55K unique customers, and deployed its software in hundreds of thousands of vehicles.

“Our technology really improves the life of the driver,” [CEO Shoaib] Makani told TechCrunch. “These are real people doing work that keeps our economy moving. Trucking is really the foundation of the American economy. More than 70 percent of all freight is moved over the road in a truck. This is how we eat, consume and produce; without it, our economy wouldn’t thrive.”

KeepTruckin’s software is intended to bring the antiquated trucking industry into the digital age. Its platform provides electronic logs and fleet management tools, including GPS tracking and driver performance monitoring for fleet managers and dispatchers to track and communicate with their drivers.

“We are competing against paper and pencil,” Makani explained

East bound and down, loaded up and truckin’…into the 21st century.

Written by turbotodd

April 23, 2019 at 9:58 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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This Person Does Not Exist…No, Really!

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This one made me laugh out loud: According to a story in the Financial Times, two fifths of artificial intelligence (AI) start-ups don’t use any AI programs in their products.

This from a report by London-based investment firm MMC Ventures, which said it could not find any evidence of AI apps in 40 percent of 2,830 AI start-ups based on public information and interviews with executives.

And yet the companies were often described as AI-focused.

Hey, it’s AI. Everything can be AI when it’s AI. Except when it’s not, which just means the AI is fooling you into thinking it isn’t.

What’s up is down and what’s down is up, and as the White Queen explained in Alice in Wonderland, ”Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

This, increasingly, the world we’re moving into. 

Witness the most recent AI phenomenon, ThisPersonDoesNotExist.com, the creation of Uber software engineer Philp Wang.

If you haven’t checked this site out, it’s pretty simple (and yet, under the covers, quite complex): Every time you refresh the site its “generative adversarial network,” which was trained on a massive dataset of real images, produces a new facial image of a non-real person.

Yes, ladies and germs, a real website that creates images of fake people.

So if you thought you weren’t sure whether you could believe those sleazy photos of that sleazy politician were for real…well, now you’ll likely be right.

Then, extrapolate that scenario and multiply it by a gazillion others.

They always said truth was the first casualty of war…I think it’s safe to say you can now append AI to that list. 

Written by turbotodd

March 5, 2019 at 11:11 am

Posted in 2019, AI, startups

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