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Salesforce Creates £37m Fund To Invest In AI Startups

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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The AI Innovation Fund has started off by investing in AI startups in the areas of marketing, data management and natural language processing

Salesforce has marked the first anniversary of its artificial intelligence offering, Einstein, with a $50 million (£37m) fund for investments in AI startups, as well as announcing new Einstein offerings set for commercial availability next year.

Salesforce Ventures, the company’s investment group, said on Tuesday it would set aside $50m for the Salesforce AI Innovation Fund, with startups Highspot, Squirro and TalkIQ the first to receive investments.

Startup fund

Highspot uses AI to improve marketing effectiveness, while Squirro aims to help organisations manage data and draw insights from it and TalkIQ uses voice-to-text transcription, natural language processing, AI and machine learning to draw useful information from a company’s telephone conversations with customers.

Salesforce said it has also completed an investment in All Turtles, an AI studio that works with startup teams to build AI-based offerings. The three startups and All Turtles all deliver offerings for Salesforce’s platform.

artifical intelligence, AI“Artificial intelligence has the potential to make every company and employee smarter, faster, more efficient and more productive,” stated Salesforce’s executive vice president of corporate development and Salesforce Ventures.

He said the fund would “help accelerate the development of transformative AI solutions that extend and complement Salesforce”.

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New Einstein features

Salesforce also announced three upcoming Einstein features that are currently in trials and are set for availability in the first half of next year.

Einstein Forecasting aims to use AI to help make sales projections more realistic, avoiding inaccurate forecasts, while Einstein Opportunity Scoring helps salespeople prioritise the most valuable deals and Einstein Email Insights helps sales reps sift through emails by identifying those that are the most important and recommending actions or responses, including scheduling a meeting or sending a quote.

Salesforce introduced Einstein in September of last year and has said it wants to build AI into all its offerings.

The company faces stiff competition in the area, however, and industry analysts have said that so far Einstein is relatively lightweight compared with the AI features available from specialist providers.

To help address the issue Salesforce joined forces with IBM and its Watson AI system in March of this year, with the two companies saying they plan to target the sales, service, marketing and commerce sectors, amongst others.

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