In 2016 Alexandr Wang, 20, took time off from his graduate computer science studies at MIT. He headed to Silicon Valley to join his friend and fellow developer Lucy Guo, 23. Two years earlier, Guo – a 2014 Thiel Fellow – had left her senior year at Carnegie Mellon to pursue her own tech career. Now, little more than a year after Wang left Cambridge, the two are leading a $4.7-million startup. Scale, “The API of Human Intelligence,” serves such giants as Alphabet, P&G, GM Cruise and more.
From high school dropouts to Stanford Ph.D’s, most of the Forbes 2018 30 Under 30 Class in Enterprise Tech are augmenting Artificial Intelligence with indispensable human skills. Both Wang and Guo have substantial experience in tech, including stints at Snap and Quora. So they know that despite the considerable hype AI is, as they describe it, “not ready for prime time.” And, like much of this year’s class, they took risks to create something new.
Scale offers immediate access to human-powered services such as image recognition and audio transcription via a simple developer API. As a business, Scale is going against an existing behemoth, Amazon, as well as its contractors-for-hire website Mechanical Turk. Wang and Guo want to differentiate their company via quality and simplicity. While onAmazon’s job site ompanies must filter for quality workers, Scale pre-screens and trains its contractors who, according to Scale, “are used heavily for tasks where quality is absolutely crucial, such as building training datasets for self-driving cars and computer vision companies.”
Artificial Intelligence is the focus of the leap Greg Brockman, 29, took when he left Stripe in 2015. As the company’s first CTO, Brockman helped the online payments company grow from 5 to 205 clients. But it was his dinner with tech rock stars including Elon Musk and Y Combinator’s Sam Altman that changed everything. They discussed the need for responsible development of AI. This led to the cofounding of OpenAI, a nonprofit research company. AI “will be the most transformative technology that humans ever create and there should be an organization dedicated to ensuring it is a positive transformation,” says Brockman, who is now OpenAI’s CTO.
In two years, Brockman has recruited the OpenAI founding team of top AI researchers, led its Dota team in beating a professional esports competitor and architected its non-machine learning systems Together, they’ve authored the paper “Concrete Problems in AI Safety,” which lays out an agenda for AI safety.
Safety is the key concern for Drive.ai, an autonomous tech company Sameep Tandon, 27, founded with team members at Stanford University’s Artificial Intelligence Lab while pursuing his Ph.D in Computer Science. There he says he researched deep learning, an advanced form of artificial intelligence that learns and operates similarly to the human brain, and could help build safer, smarter driverless cars. The ever-evolving result is technology built to identify pedestrians and alert humans how to respond to such living obstacles. In 2015, Tandon and his labmates put their Ph.D plans on hold to launch Drive.ai. With $77 million in funding, Drive.ai became one of the first companies to deploy self-driving cars in California.
Soroush Salehian, 29, says he launched his driverless car tech company Aeva out of a personal drive to shortcut our path to robust and scalable autonomous transport. “Over the past decade we’ve been using more or less the same building blocks in sensing tech to improve drive assist systems,” says the former member Apple’s mysterious special products group. “Aeva’s technology brings together the best of vision, depth and motion sensors into a single product with superior performance.” This, Salehian argues, provides greater range and resolution regardless of weather conditions, and more precisely measures velocity compared compared to Aeva’s competitors.
Photo courtesy Lucy Gao
The competition within self-driving car tech is leading to a lot of innovations, yet it isn’t anywhere close to eliminating public transportation. As anybody who relies upon this government service knows, this is also an area in need of improvement. Enter Remix, a transit-planning startup poised for substantial growth in both the United States and Europe. With $10 million in funding, Remix is a web-based platform supplies data analytics organization out to help companies design or improve routes and plan for emergencies. Under 30 initiates Tiffany Chu, 29, and Daniel Getleman, 27, are among the Code for America team who launched the startup, which now serves more than 250 cities.
Leif K-Brooks, 27, is another tech veteran in 2018’s Under 30 Enterprise Tech class. For that matter, so are his Octane AI cofounders, past Under 30 candidates Ben Parr and Matt Schlicht. Their AI area is, along with several other Under 30 candidates, customer service in the chatbot age. “Our belief is that Messenger marketing is the new email marketing and that the future of commerce is messaging apps,” K-Brooks says of Open AI, which helps brands connect via bot conversations. K-Brooks knows from messaging. He began his tech career in 2009 at the age of 18 when he launched Omegle, a free online chat website. More than a million people use Omegle daily and his technology has powered over two billion conversations.
Karson Humiston, 25, is also using technology to connect humans while addressing a rapidly expanding niche — the $7 billion weed industry. She’s CEO and founder of Vangst, a cannabis industry recruiting agency and its newly launched website, Vangsters. In 2015, Humiston invested her own money into building an agency focusing on filling highly specialized jobs, from entry level to executive. Vangst has hosted career summits in Colorado and California which have attracted hundreds of companies and thousands of job seekers. Vangst currently has offices in Colorado and California and has aggressive expansion plans for 2018.
For the complete list of the Enterprise Tech 30 Under 30, flip through the gallery above or check out the landing page here.
The FORBES 30 Under 30 in Enterprise Tech list was created using nominations from a variety of sources, and was reported by Samar Marwan and Helen A.S Popkin. The judges for this category were Stewart Butterfield, Slack CEO and cofounder; Theresia Gouw, cofounder of Aspect Ventures; and Chris Wanstrath, Github cofounder. Thanks to all of them and to everyone who nominated candidates.
What do you think of the list? Join the conversation on Twitter with #30under30.
More Info: www.forbes.com
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