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Austin-based AI Startup SparkCognition Raises $100M Series C

SparkCognition, an Austin-based artificial intelligence (AI) technology startup, announced today it has raised $100 million in a Series C financing led by March Capital Partners.

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Founded by Amir Husain in 2013, SparkCognition aims to provide businesses ranging from energy, oil and gas to finance and aerospace with cybersecurity and machine learning technology. Its goal is to make operations more safe, secure and efficient. The company’s products include cybersecurity and document solutions, as well as data science technology.

SparkCognition CEO and Founder Amir Husain

It has “partnered” with a number of companies including The Boeing Co., Hitachi High-Technologies, Aker BP, and others. In fact SparkCognition recently partnered with Boeing to form SkyGrid, a joint venture focused on delivering unmanned aircraft system traffic management solutions through the use of AI and blockchain technologies.

With this round, SparkCognition has raised a total of $175 million since it was founded in 2013. This last round was raised at a valuation of more than $725 million, according to Pitchbook.

I talked with Husain by phone today and he told me that the company has been “doubling revenue” year-over-year, and that revenue in 2019 so far has “already exceeded last year’s significantly.”

Meanwhile, headcount is approaching 300, he added, and up about one-third compared to this same time last year.

The company plans to use the new capital to invest in growing its research group, continuing to expand globally (it recently set up operations in Latin America and in the Middle East), and in building out an integration facility near its home base of Austin, according to Husain.

“A lot of the work we do is focused on integrating industrial systems into the physical world,” Husain told me. “So this will allow us to further develop those capabilities.”

In February 2018, SparkCognition announced the full close of its multi-part Series B. The firm raised a total of $56.5 million in the round, which was announced during both 2017 and the early months of 2018.

In March of that year, I interviewed Husain—a prolific inventor with 22 awarded and over 40 pending U.S. patent applications to his credit—on how AI was likely the harbinger of both innovation and destruction.

Then in July 2018, SparkCognition and Boeing announced they would use artificial intelligence and blockchain technologies to track uncrewed air vehicles in flight and allocate traffic corridors and routes “to ensure safe, secure transportation.”

“In a short few years, SparkCognition has proven itself to be one of the leading industrial AI companies in the world,” said Sumant Mandal, managing director and co-founder of March Capital Partners, in a prepared statement.

New investor Temasek also participated in the round, along with a slew of other institutions and individuals, including Hearst Ventures, Founders Equity Partners and Malcolm Turnbull, former Australian Prime Minister and former managing director of Goldman Sachs Australia, among others.

Existing investors who also participated in the round included The Boeing Co. through its Boeing HorizonX unit, former Cisco CEO and chairman John Chambers and MSD Capital, the private investment fund of Michael S. Dell and family.

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

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