Dennis Mortensen is one of those special founders. I first met him in late 2012 when he was leading his previous company, Visual Revenue, and he wanted to present at the NYETM. From the beginning, it was clear how quickly Dennis could light up a room. Anyone who’s ever met him knows the passion and intensity with which he talks about the future is inspiring. Two years later in February 2014, after he had sold Visual Revenue to Outbrain, I got this email about alpha testing a new product.
At the time I had been scheduling my own meetings at Work-Bench, and the struggle was real. I’d block 11pm-1am nightly to schedule pending meetings. The horrible part was that I’d send a block of times for a week and a half out, and if people had conflicts or simply didn’t respond in time, then I’d have to repeat the exercise. It was the epitome of an inefficient process. We didn’t have the budget for a personal assistant for our team, and when Dennis first emailed, I was exploring the landscape of virtual assistants only to find that nothing worked that well.
In contrast, the first time I used Amy it was pure magic. The ability today to just cc firstname.lastname@example.org and have a calendar invite pop into my inbox was an incredible feeling. After 2+ years of using the service and 1,000 meetings scheduled last year alone, it’s been a major boon to my productivity. And I’m not the only one thrilled about it— just check out x.ai’s long list of “love notes” on Twitter filled with happy Amy and Andrew (her twin brother) users. And the company has been lauded in almost every major media publication.
Yet every day people ask me if Andrew and Amy are human (and often don’t believe me when I say that it’s AI). Dennis, his cofounders Alex Poon, Matt Casey, and Marcos Jimenez, and the impressive team were aware of the many challenges involved in trying to fully automate such a painstaking process, and boy did they rally to make it happen. While competitors quickly mocked up lukewarm, partially-automated scheduling assistant solutions that are expensive and can’t scale, the team remained laser-focused on building something incredibly powerful for the masses. “Nothing more, and nothing less," than a fully AI personal assistant, as Dennis says.
What’s the secret sauce? The magic lies within the team of 64 propeller-heads (as Dennis affectionately calls them) of leading data scientists, AI trainers, and Scala engineers that won’t rest until they make their dream a reality. They have been relentless in data labeling—in an effort to train the system so that it’s accuracy improves. As we say time and again, data is the competitive moat for any AI-powered business application, and x.ai is a case study in architecting a data science driven organization. The entire user experience is designed to not just navigate, but embrace the many data gaps that stood in the way.
The market here is massive and democratizing. Everyone deserves more time back in their day, not just executives. The beauty of a fully automated solution means that x.ai can grow into a massive company without breaking the bank for users as other competitive services do. If you think about the long term implications here, everyone from SMBs to large corporations can benefit from Amy and Andrew, and the benefits only compound within the enterprise, where cross-team coordination is a quagmire and getting on a busy executive’s calendar can be a full time job.
On a final note, it warms our hearts at Work-Bench that x.ai is fully based in New York City. Feeding on a rich history of data science across academia and a diversity of industries including banking, media, technology, and healthcare, New York gives x.ai an even greater competitive advantage when it comes to hiring. As Dennis says, “Our Data Science hiring pipeline is extremely strong here. We believe there’s as much, if not more, talent here than on the West Coast.” And when looking towards the future, it will be helpful for sales too: “New York City is headquarters for thousands of businesses that we see as potential customers. It’s invaluable to be able to meet face to face when we’ll eventually be operating an Enterprise SaaS company.”
As we look towards the future, we’re thrilled to partner with Dennis, Alex, Matt, Marcos, and the rest of the x.ai team along with the impressive roster of top tier investors including the Series B lead Two Sigma Ventures and other participating VCs such as FirstMark, IA Ventures, SoftbankCapital/SBNY, Lerer Hippeau Ventures, CrunchFund, Pritzker, and DCM.
Want to give x.ai a spin and get your own Amy or Andrew? Tweet out this post and we’ll select 10 lucky winners (US based, who use Google Calendar) to get instant access off the waitlist.
Interested in joining x.ai? The team is hiring for a variety of roles including growth engineers, data engineers, data scientists, and a VP of Customer Acquisition. Learn more here.comments powered by Disqus