👋 Welcome to Air Street Capital: We've raised a $17M fund to back early-stage “AI-native” founders.
Published by Nathan Benaich, Founder and General Partner, on 30th October 2020.
Investing in AI-first technology and life science companies
Today, we announce Air Street Capital and our new $17 million fund that represents the future of global AI investing. Generalism is dead, and to be the partner of choice for AI-first founders in both Europe and the US, you need AI-native investors.
Our thesis is clear: AI is the most compelling force multiplier on technological progress in our increasingly digital, data-driven world. This is because everything around us today, ranging from culture to consumer products, is the result of intelligence. We believe that tomorrow’s category-leading companies will be AI-first by design.
Air Street Capital draws on a deep bench of AI-native Operating Partners - founders and researchers who have built their careers in AI-first software, and who are sharing back the emerging playbook of building best-in-class AI-first technology products and companies with our portfolio founders. We’re honoured to have Phil Keslin (Niantic), Gaile Gordon (TYZX, acquired by Intel), Julien Cornebise and Gabriel Dulac-Arnold (Google Research, DeepMind), as well as Jan Erik Solem (Facebook, Mapillary) on our team, amongst others.
We believe this combination of AI expertise with deep sector-specific knowledge is going to accelerate the success of the next generation of enduring companies. Our portfolio so far confirms this: companies like Graphcore are gaining huge traction to power a whole generation of AI-first software, while Anagenex, LabGenius and ZOE are all exemplifying how AI-first approaches can unlock previously intractable opportunities in the life sciences.
The approach we take to investing and supporting AI-native founders at the seed stage is a novel one in Europe. The opportunity is obvious, with almost one-quarter of top global AI talent earning their undergraduate and graduate degrees here. With the rapid pace of AI technology breakthroughs in academia and open source, even the knowledge gained during a PhD completed a few years ago dates quickly. As natives of the AI ecosystem ourselves, our day-to-day exposure to projects of all shapes and sizes and our work with the RAAIS community and the State of AI Report gives us an edge: a prepared mind. Seeing the present clearly let’s us build conviction quickly.
The European ecosystem to-date has offered fewer specialist investors than the US, and we believe there is enormous value to be created from early partnerships. From Facebook’s acquisition of Mapillary 6 years after our team’s Seed investment in 2014, to Sequoia’s investment into Air Street-backed Graphcore, international investors are taking notice of European AI companies at the later stages. At Air Street Capital, we specialise in identifying high-potential opportunities early on, and we work closely with our founders to iterate through product, market and technology strategy from day 1 through to Series A and beyond.
We are honoured to have earned the trust of global limited partners who are committed to our mission, including Twitter, Vitruvian Partners, Google Senior Fellow Jeff Dean, Supercell co-founder Ilkka Paananen, Unity co-founder David Helgason, Point Nine Capital co-founder Christoph Janz, and LocalGlobe & Basecamp co-founders Robin and Saul Klein.
If you’re an entrepreneur building AI-first solutions, from infrastructure through to applications, to solve the most pressing challenges in your field we’d love to hear from you.