Unlikely AI raises $20m in oversubscribed seed round

Unlikely AI has announced the close of a $20m seed round involving a range of prominent UK venture capital funds and angel investors. The start-up will use the funding to boost the development of its ambitious, fresh approach to artificial intelligence (AI) and expand its team.

Unlikely AI was founded by William Tunstall-Pedoe, best known for his role in the development of Amazon Alexa. His first start-up, Evi Technologies (formerly True Knowledge), developed technology for natural language understanding and question-answering. Evi launched a voice assistant with the same name in 2012 that saw millions of downloads in the first few months.

The company was then acquired by Amazon, where the technology, team and know-how were used to create, launch and further develop Alexa – the world-famous AI assistant that saw more than a hundred million devices sold during its first few years on the market. William left Amazon in 2016 and Unlikely AI is his next big venture.

Amadeus Capital Partners and Octopus Ventures co-led the over-subscribed round, which also included participation by Cambridge Innovation Capital, Skype founder Jaan Tallinn’s Metaplanet and others.

The recent round follows on from a £1.1m angel-only round in October 2020, which saw 26 prominent angel investors contribute, 19 of whom followed on to the current round.

The angels include Christopher North, who was the UK country manager for Amazon following Amazon’s acquisition of Evi; Patrick Pichette, the former CFO of Google and current Twitter board member; the prominent Silicon Valley executive Barak Berkowitz; and many members of Cambridge Angels, a group of more than 60 high-net worth investors of whom Tunstall-Pedoe is also a member. Berkowitz has also joined the board of the company following the round.

Tunstall-Pedoe comments on the announcement:

“The entire team is very excited about the opportunity that this financing has given us to develop Unlikely AI and its technology, and we are delighted to partner with our new investors.”

Amelia Armour, Partner at Amadeus Capital Partners, who is joining Unlikely AI’s board, comments:

“We’re excited to be backing William in his latest venture. Unlikely AI has the potential to disrupt many sectors and William has the knowledge and experience to build a global company of immense value.”

Simon King, Partner, Octopus Ventures comments:

“Evi Technologies was one of the first investments Octopus Ventures made from our Titan fund and it gave us the opportunity to see how unique William’s knowledge and pedigree in AI are. A decade on from Evi’s success, we couldn’t be happier to be working with him again as he and his team build on another world changing idea.”

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