A startup that helps companies build their own AI-based tools just closed a $72.5 million round co-led by Goldman Sachs and the world's largest insurer's
- H2O.ai on Tuesday closed a $72.5 million Series D round led by Goldman Sachs and the Ping An Global Voyager Fund.
- The startup automates how companies apply artificial intelligence across their business.
- Ediz Ozkaya, Goldman Sachs' head of AI strategies in securities, told Business Insider the bank was attracted to how easily H2O.ai's tools merged with the work Goldman was already doing in AI.
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A startup hoping to democratize the use of artificial intelligence just got a big boost from one of the most prestigious firms on Wall Street and the world's largest insurance company.
H2O.ai on Tuesday closed a $72.5 million Series D round co-led by Goldman Sachs and the Ping An Global Voyager Fund, a subsidiary of the China-based Ping An Insurance. Wells Fargo, NVIDIA and Nexus Venture Partners, all previous investors, also participated in the round.
The Silicon Valley-based company works across a variety of industries, including financial services, insurance, and healthcare, with a goal of giving every company the ability to use AI technology, regardless of their size or expertise in the tech. H2O Driverless AI, the company's flagship product, helps users deploy machine learning techniques cheaper and faster than if they attempted to do it entirely on their own.
Larger firms that already have established AI teams, such as those on Wall Street, are also using the company's tech too.
Goldman Sachs was already a customer of H2O.ai prior to the investment. Ediz Ozkaya, Goldman Sachs head of AI strategies in securities, told Business Insider one of the things that attracted the bank to the startup initially was the fact it could easily be merged with the work Goldman was already doing in AI.
The bank had already invested significant time and resources into AI technology internally, Ozkaya said, and wasn't willing to throw it away for a vendor solution.
"It is not a product trying to do everything better than the experts in their domain. They actually focus on a few things they do really well, and you are able to bring in your expertise to work with that," Ozkaya said. "They still let you bring in your domain-specific AI capability and let you to connect it to the product through a set of standardized interfaces that they call recipes."
The startup has proved particularly popular among Wall Street firms hoping to benefit from the use of artificial intelligence. In addition to Goldman Sachs, H2O.ai counts Well Fargo, Franklin Templeton and electronic trading venue MarketAxess as customers. Sri Ambati, CEO and founder of H2O.ai, told Business Insider financial services represent about half of H2O.ai's revenue.
Since H2O.ai's last raise - a $40 million Series C led by Wells Fargo and NVIDIA in November 2017 - the company has tripled its customer base in a nod towards companies increasing interest in how AI is transforming their business.
With the latest round of funding Ambati said he wants to simplify AI even further. The goal is to put AI-based tools in the hands of those with even less experience using the technology.
Ambati said the company's is in the process of working on such a platform, slated to be released later this year, that would be the next step in H20.ai's goal of democratizing AI.
"How to make it as beautiful as Tableau and as effective as Tableau or Excel, but intelligent," Ambati said. "So, out-of-the-box smart insights."
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