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Founders Luke Kim and Phillip LeBlanc

Ready for some Spice in your Apps? – Our Investment in Spice AI

AUTHORS: Aseem Datar and Tim Porter | October 14, 2021

So, what exactly is an Intelligent application? Simply put, it is a SaaS application that leverages ML or is infused with AI to act dynamically based on evolving situations.  A simple example would be an application that dynamically adjusts routes to a store for a consumer based on real time inventory status for his or her desired purchase or one could imagine an app that books you onto the next available flight in case you miss your connection at the airport. At the core, Intelligent apps enable companies to deliver magical experiences through their products and services that that in turn drive deeper engagement and customer delight.

Core to these intelligent applications are three major tenets: a high-fidelity dataset, data models that are used to train the right ML algorithms and the deployable ML/AI models themselves.

Earlier this year, Matt  wrote a more detailed blog on the rise of intelligent apps that you can read here. Highspot, Amperity, Clari, and the most recent addition to our portfolio Read AI are all real-world examples of intelligent applications.

Per Statista, the global AI applications market is forecasted to grow rapidly in the coming years, reaching around 126 billion U.S. dollars by 2025.  A mobile-first world, the rise in generation of data-sets, increase in global connectivity and compute (decision making) at the edge are just some of the key factors that serve as tailwinds for this to continue expanding at rapid scale.

For over a decade, the Madrona team has been investing in “Intelligent Apps” and continuing on that theme, today I am excited to announce our investment in Spice AI.

Software developers are front and center of building applications in any enterprise.

What sets Spice AI apart is the “creator-first” mindset which focuses on the developer experience so they can seamlessly introduce AI capabilities to their platforms rather than having to go through long development cycles.

Building intelligent apps that deliver magical experiences by leveraging AI is still way too hard, even for advanced developers. There is a need to combine code with sophisticated data-science to elevate the app and add smarts in it, thereby making it an “intelligent app”. Spice AI is on a mission to make this as easy as creating a modern web page. The goal is to make quality-of-life improving AI accessible to all. In their quest to build a real time neurofeedback system, founders Luke and Phillip experienced how challenging it is for a developer to create truly intelligent software.

What sets Spice AI apart is the “creator-first” mindset which focuses on the developer experience so they can seamlessly introduce AI capabilities to their platforms rather than having to go through long development cycles. Spice AI uses modern iterative workflows with features like live-preview along with a package registry/manager which is truly unique that helps reduce time to market.

In addition to building a great product, what sets Spice AI apart is its stellar team. CEO Luke Kim and Co-founder Phillip LeBlanc worked together at Microsoft. Luke spent over a decade at the company, most recently as the  co-creator of the Incubations team at Azure, where he led cross-functional engineering to create and ship technologies like Dapr. I first crossed paths with Luke at Azure and I have always been impressed with his customer first mindset and his ability to blaze through challenges. Phillip worked on Azure Active Directory, Visual Studio App Center and GitHub improving the GitHub actions developer experience. Their technical acumen combined with the bold vision is exemplary and second to none.

From the moment we reconnected with Luke and Phillip we knew they were onto something special. The team is going after a large and significantly important mission as the world sees more and more of these intelligent apps.

We are excited for Luke, Phillip and the entire Spice AI team and the road ahead. We are just getting started with them in this journey and can’t wait to see them realize this bold vision!

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