ArchiTECHt Daily: A golden age for AI startups

After a three-year span when seemingly every artificial intelligence with a promising product or pedi
ARCHITECHT
ArchiTECHt Daily: A golden age for AI startups
By ARCHITECHT • Issue #10
After a three-year span when seemingly every artificial intelligence with a promising product or pedigreed founders was immediately acquired by Google or Facebook or Apple or IBM or Microsoft or Salesforce or [insert hot tech company here], I think we’ve finally reached the era of the independent AI startup. 
There are two big reasons why I think this is the case:
  1. There are so many AI startups right now that even a handful of admittedly huge tech companies can’t possibly absorb them all. And with the pace of innovation in open source AI, it’s only going to get easier for entrepreneurs with the tech chops to start companies.
  2. Large enterprises are seriously looking at AI as a strategic investment, which means there’s a lot of money to be made in helping them adopt it. If you can realistically envision a future where you’re closing respectable deals, it might be a lot easier to turn down a fast exit.
The following news yesterday helped illuminate this trend for me:
  • Xnor.ai raised $2.6 million: This company, which spun out the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, is building AI models that can run directly on consumer (or industrial) devices.
  • Suplari raised $3.1 million: Suplari is still in stealth mode, but one of its investors calls it an “intelligent app.” The company says it’s doing “data driven business optimization"—and that’s about all.
  • Propulse Analytics raised $1.4 million: Seemingly inspired by Stitch Fix and others, Propulse is trying to help retailers figure out buyers’ tastes via computer vision.
  • Clarifai opens SF office: The fact that computer vision startup Clarifai, which has raised more than $40 million, hasn’t been acquired yet (despite, I assume, more than a few offers) is a testament to its long-term ambitions. That it feels comfortable hiring a director of research and opening an office on the opposite coast (it’s based in NYC) is a further sign of the company’s confidence.
So. Much. Activity.
Yes, there’s a lot of AI-washing happening right now. And, yes, the ultimate success of any startup will involve figuring out a way to deal with formidable (probably an understatement) competition from Google, Amazon and Microsoft, among others. But there’s also some real innovation happening—and you only get a chance to be the next billion-dollar company if you stick around long enough to play the game.

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Around the web: Artificial intelligence
A great explanation of how Facebook took its image-captioning AI system from research to engineering to users. 
Colleges could save kids a lot of time, money and stress by intervening early, or refocusing their own energies. (Also, this is not technically an AI use case, but I’m sure the deep learning version is on the way.)
Around the web: Cloud and infrastructure
AWS has a $14 billion run rate
Not to take away from how impressive that is, but Microsoft claims the same run rate for its cloud business. If you take a platform-level view, the cloud doesn’t look so one-sided.
Hey, nobody owns the container market yet. And VMware does have some solid networking assets. Just sayin’.
The GitHub competitor is up and running again, although hundreds of users lost data over a 6-hour period.
No surprise that Microsoft isn’t messing with LinkedIn’s infrastructure at the moment, but there’s no way LinkedIn’s OCP-alternative plans go anywhere. 
Docker, Kubernetes (pick a vendor, I guess) and Mesosphere have a great opportunity to capitalize on fear of cloud lock-in at the container level.
This is a good explanation of how Uber’s tracing system has evolved as its microservices environment has expanded to more than 2,000 services. Oh, and it’s good about open sourcing the tech.
Hundreds of millions of database objects and no downtime. Pretty impressive, and also what most users expect from service providers today.
stripe.com  •  Share
I would say this contract is rich irony after Snap reportedly spurned a $4 billion acquisition offer from Google in 2013, but the founders are potentially looking at a much bigger payday with the IPO.
fortune.com  •  Share
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