Meet The Investors Of Conversational AI

July 15, 2018

PUBLISHED BY Martine Paris


Conversational commerce is exploding in chat, delivering what you want, when you want it. Get to know the VCs and angels making it happen.

Hey Google, Alexa, Cortana, Siri and Messenger, 2018 is shaping up to be boom times.

As AI investment soars to historic highs, there’s a renewed excitement among developers to create more productive, intelligent voice and text interaction between humans and chatbots. Q1 2018 pulled in $1.9 billion across 116 deals making it the biggest quarter ever, according to PwC’s MoneyTree report. This influx of money is fueling dramatic advances in predictive analytics and deep learning, and accelerating the ability for algorithms to infer preferences from what we post across social media. With over 5 billion people on the messaging apps, the market potential for conversational commerce is massive.

Facebook, Amazon and Google, armed with our credit cards, calendars, location, and behavioral data, are already able to order us Ubers, event tickets, outfits, restaurants and hotel rooms just by asking a few questions in chat. It won’t be long before bots are also able to match us with the perfect mates, housing, and jobs.

“Ads are getting more relevant on these platforms. One day, upon being shown an ad on Instagram, you’ll be able to say I want it and the bot will confirm store, brand, item name, size, color, address, and payment method – all through conversational UI. An ‘I want it’ from you and it ships. That will be a watershed moment for Facebook and a huge revenue stream. It will help small businesses do commerce better and will save users time from downloading apps or clicking around a website,” said Kevin Raheja, Head of Strategic Partnerships at HubSpot.

For anyone who has shopped in a Shopify store powered by Octane AI, you may have experienced a helpful chatbot reaching out in Messenger to help you complete your order. “70% of people abandon their carts while shopping online,” said Ben Parr, co-founder and CMO of Octane AI, “With our bots, stores are increasing abandoned cart revenue by 250% which on average translates to an increase of 7-25% in revenue per store,”

For those that get it right, there’s a lot of money in conversational commerce.

“A Prime member spends $600 more annually that a non-Prime shopper, and Echo shoppers spend another $400 more!” said Molly co-founder Chris Messina in his recent Medium post. The faster and easier it is to order what we need, the more we spend.

In a much celebrated move this past April, Facebook introduced the Messenger Store to help users find and engage with the more than 100,000 bots that’s been developed for the platform. The store offers editorial features and categories to browse, and can be found in the Discovery tab at the bottom of messages. Although there are no charts yet to track top grossing apps, developers are able to report their own stats, and some are doing very well like SnapTravel, a hotel booking bot, which announced over $1 million of Messenger bookings at F8.

Although Messenger still doesn’t have a dedicated fund or accelerator to support its developer ecosystem, Amazon, Google and Microsoft do, and there are a growing number of corporate investors. venture capital firms, and angels profiled below who are placing bets on artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing. With their collective efforts, we can expect to soon see computer interaction that’s friendlier, more efficient, and more human.

Meet The 40 Investors Rocking Chat

11. Bruce Cleveland, Wildcat Ventures

Bruce Cleveland is a founding partner of Wildcat Ventures focused on AI, IoT and marketing automation. He is former Apple, Oracle and Siebel, and interested in growing entrepreneurial hubs outside of Silicon Valley including the Pacific Northwestl. Portfolio includes Amplero, a machine learning digital intelligence platform that enables marketers to achieve what is not humanly possible.

Read the full article on BuzzFeed here.