AI Startup Led by Former Apple Execs Raises Its Next $100M

AI startup Humane, founded by former Apple employees, has raised $100 million in a Series C round to fund its vision to deliver an “integrated device and cloud services platform” for artificial intelligence. That brings Humane’s total funding to $230 million from investors including Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff. This recent round, led by Kindred Ventures, includes Microsoft, SK Networks and OpenAI co-founder Sam Altman. While Humane hasn’t been publicizing its plans, the company — founded by ex-Apple execs Bethany Bongiorno and Imran Chaudhri — drew attention after hiring dozens of former Apple staffers. It now numbers about 200 employees.

The recruits had worked on things like the iPhone’s touchscreen keyboard as well UI elements for things like iCloud and Apple Pay. Chaudhri is known for a leading role in designing the iPhone home screen, while Bongiorno was front and center on software development for the iPhone, iPad and later the Mac. TechCrunch reports the company says it is partnering with SK and Microsoft to bring its products to market.

While specifics have yet to be revealed, Chaudhri said in an interview with TechCrunch that the startup is “building a first-of-its-kind device and services platform” with a focus on “innovation, research and development.”

TechCrunch says a “reveal” is coming this spring, and dissects the husband-and-wife team’s patent portfolio for clues: “In 2020, Humane filed an application with the USPTO for a ‘body-worn device’ that uses a ‘laser projection system’ instead of a display — essentially projected AR glasses that can identify objects in the real world and apply digital imagery to them.”

John Gruber, of the Daring Fireball blog, writes of Humane’s leaked 2021 pitch deck that it “describes something akin to a ‘Star Trek’ communicator badge, with an AI-connected always-on camera saving photos and videos to the cloud, and lidar sensors for world-mapping and detecting hand gestures.”

“Our first device will enable people to bring AI with them everywhere,” explained Chaudhri in a company release. “It’s an exciting time, and we’ve been focused on how to build the platform and device that can fully harness the true power and potential of this technology.”

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