Ten years after investing in AI, my four insights


Editor’s Note: This article is from the WeChat public account “outside the stack” (WeChat ID: zhanwai_) author Jim Breyer, 36 is authorized to release.I am often asked if I can post some insights into artificial intelligence (AI) investments.The truth is that the field is too complicated and the dogmatic theory does not apply.In this sense, my answer is no.However, after more than a decade of thinking about AI investment, I came to some conclusions.Some of them are business insights that I learned after working with a particular company, and others are my natural insights after seeing the industry mature.I hope this article will help readers better understand my views on AI investments and how I have gained these insights from industry experience.Insight 1: The successful AI opportunity is the combination of technology and business acumen. I came to the board of Facebook when I came to this conclusion.At the time, Zuckerberg and his team were thinking about using AI technology to equip the team with top AI personnel.They are far ahead in this regard.Today, most technology companies understand that if they want a good future, they must start using it, or at least start exploring AI technology.Facebook recognized this as early as 2010, and even was willing to invest a lot of time and money in the AI ​​strategy.Zuckerberg and his team did not focus on research and bold planning, but pursued practical goals.Facebook believes that AI projects that are value for money must be closely related to business goals.But this does not prevent the team from making long-term investments.In contrast, in many cases, business-oriented thinking makes them more willing to make long-term investments.If an AI project is commercially meaningful and meets all appeals, Facebook is happy to implement it.Other companies continue to lose their way in this regard, they are mainly concerned with technology, thinking that the use case scenario will eventually be realized.Facebook cares a lot about technology, but it also pays attention to feasibility.It’s no wonder that they have such an enviable performance in the AI ​​field and continue to be at the forefront.Insight 2: The best team form is an interdisciplinary team. I found this especially in the AI ​​field, thanks to Daniel Nadler for pointing me in the right direction.When Daniel Nadler founded Kensho, a financial data analysis company, he was a Ph.D. student at Harvard University.In addition to having a clever technical mind, Nadler is a poet and filmmaker.The rich background experience made him understand that if he wanted to overcome a multi-faceted problem, his team must also come from different academic backgrounds.Legend: Kensho Headquarters.Today, Kensho creates a new generation of AI analytics platforms for professional investors using massively parallel statistical calculations, user-friendly visualization interfaces, breakthrough unstructured data engineering and predictive analytics.Building such a complex platform requires outstanding team members from different disciplines.There are economists, statisticians and developers in Daniel’s Kensho team.He has built a strong business by hiring top user experience designers to expand their products and build a first-class sales culture.In 2018, Kensho acquired financial analyst firm S&P Global for $550 million, making it the most valuable privatized artificial intelligence company in history.Breyer Capital and other early investors had a unique vision.When Daniel asked me to support Edo, his next forecasting and analysis company, I readily agreed.Insight 3: Believe in smart people I first met Thomas Reardon in the 1990s. Although I was not familiar with it, I admired his wisdom, energy and courage.Later, when I was working at Microsoft and Internet streaming service provider Real Networks, I learned more about him. I found that Thomas is also very good.He cares a lot about his work and his impact on the world.Every time we meet, Thomas teaches me something new.I knew then that I would support him if there was an opportunity.My chances are coming in 2016, thanks to the founder of Real Networks, Rob Glaser, who reconnected with Thomas.Thomas has just graduated from Columbia University and is eager to establish a neuroscience company.His vision of the company (Thomas later founded CTRL-labs, a brain-computer interface development) is clear and convincing.I know that what he is trying to do is very difficult, but he also knows that he is one of the few people in the world who has the ability and tenacity to do it.I am very happy to be an A-round investor. I am willing to do my best to ensure that the company has a bright future.When Thomas first approached Facebook, I was convinced that there would be significant synergies between them.I know that Zuckerberg and his team of excellence know how to appreciate the excitement of CTRL-labs and potentially become a potential partner for the company.I hope that I can help Thomas and his team.CTRL-labs is now in the best possible environment.I can attribute the success of CTRL-labs to a group of smart people.I am very happy to know him before Thomas became the founder.I am also very happy that when Robert Glasser reintroduced each other and offered investment opportunities, I chose to trust him.Now, because I believe in Zuckerberg and the Facebook team, I know that CTRL-labs will have a bright future.Insight 4: Experience is important even in a rapidly changing field. I recently announced an investment and partnership with Elemental Cognition, a company that focuses on deep learning.In my opinion, the Elemental Cognition team is addressing one of the biggest challenges facing AI in the future, developing reasoning and understanding beyond statistical machine learning and data analysis.The company has great potential to enhance human learning and innovation capabilities.So when the opportunity appeared, I was excited to decide to invest.This opportunity is irresistible, and the people behind the scenes, such as David Ferrucci, are also extraordinary people.Dr. Ferrucci is one of the few people in the world who has decades of relevant experience in the AI ​​field.He established and led the IBM Watson team of cognitive computing systems.In the 2011 joke program “Jeopardy”, Watson successfully defeated the best players of all time and achieved milestone success.Watson has also laid the foundation for a new round of applications and research projects in the AI ​​space.Despite the many changes in the AI ​​field over the past decade, I believe that Dr. Ferrucci’s experience will greatly increase the chances of Elemental Cognitive’s success.There are many young and hardworking AI developers in the world, but there are very few outstanding people who have years of experience in researching and building AI applications.Finally, here are some thoughts on AI and AI investments: 1. I believe that artificial intelligence is being used to accomplish extraordinary things.In the next decade, it will become more practical and transformative.2. The AI ​​algorithm is still in its early stages and we are expected to witness research breakthroughs in the coming months and years.3. As data sets become larger, more accessible, and computing power prices lower, AI applications will become more powerful and ubiquitous.4. I believe that China and the United States have the best AI ecosystem.By 2025, nine of the top 10 AI companies will be located in the United States or China.5. I specialize in vertical AI, have the most experience in healthcare, media and finance, and have the most confidence in these areas.I still value these vertical areas because they have huge use case potential and significant financial advantages, but I have also invested in and continue to explore other vertical areas.6. Finally, the world’s top universities remain the best place to develop and discover AI talent.Last year alone, I visited more than 50 schools and spent a precious time with professors, graduate students and undergraduates.I am particularly impressed and familiar with the AI ​​ecosystem of the following institutions: Harvard University, Stanford University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton University, Brown University, University of California, San Francisco, University of Texas at Austin, UCLA, Columbia University,Cornell University, Tsinghua University, Peking University and Indian Institute of Technology.I look forward to visiting more schools in the coming months and years and a better understanding of the future AI talents around the world..