[Funding alert] Ex-Infosys CEO Vishal Sikka raises $50M for his AI startup Vianai Systems

Vianai Systems, an AI startup by former Infosys CEO Vishal Sikka, hasn’t yet disclosed what its exact offerings and business plans are.

When Vishal Sikka joined Infosys, he was asked what Sikka meant and he replied that it meant money. His stint with Infosys was not long, but the technocrat has all the chops to raise money. 

In a statement, Sikka said that his startup Vianai Systems raised $50 million from undisclosed investors. This funding is also the largest seed round for a company whose website does not say much about the business yet. In the Bay Area, businesses raise money on paper based on the people who have built big businesses in the past. 

This will be Sikka's first startup. He is also known to be one of the people who built the InMemory database for SAP, the German software company. A techie at heart, it looks like he’s finally back after almost two years. 

Infosys CEO Vishal Sikka. Credit : wiki commons

The company’s website says that it is looking at opportunities in design thinking and artificial intelligence (AI). Design thinking, as a term, was a big part of Sikka's narrative at Infosys

He has several advisors on his list, including Henning Kagermann (former SAP Chairman and CEO), Alan Kay (Turing Award winner), Divesh Makan (Founder of ICONIQ Cap), Indra Nooyi (former CEO of PepsiCo), Sebastian Thrun (Co-founder and Chairman of Udacity), and John Etchemendy (Provost Emeritus of Stanford University).

After Infosys, Sikka spent more than a year formulating the idea of how AI can help organisations scale business. 

There is a lot of value to be derived from AI. Larry Ellison, Chairman of Oracle, has been promoting it. In fact, Sikka recently made a presentation about the benefits of AI and about Vianai Systems at Oracle's Open World. 

The global business value derived from AI is projected to total $1.2 trillion in 2018, an increase of 70 percent from 2017, according to Gartner. AI-derived business value is forecast to reach $3.9 trillion in 2022.

The Gartner AI-derived business value forecast assesses the total business value of AI across all the enterprise vertical sectors covered by Gartner. There are three different sources of AI business value: customer experience, new revenue, and cost reduction.

"AI promises to be the most disruptive class of technologies during the next 10 years due to advances in computational power, volume, velocity, and variety of data, as well as advances in deep neural networks (DNNs)," said John-David Lovelock, Research VP at Gartner. 

"One of the biggest aggregate sources for AI-enhanced products and services acquired by enterprises between 2017 and 2022 will be niche solutions that address one need very well. Business executives will drive investment in these products, sourced from thousands of narrowly focused, specialist suppliers with specific AI-enhanced applications,” he added.

AI business value growth shows the typical S-shaped curve pattern associated with any emerging technology. In 2018, the growth rate is estimated to be 70 percent, but it will slow down through 2022. After 2020, the curve will flatten, resulting in low growth over the next few years. And this is perhaps the reason why Sikka believes AI is going to change the future. 

(Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta)


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