The 10 Hottest AI Startups Of 2020

Here’s a look at 10 artificial intelligence technology companies that caught our attention in 2020.


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See the latest entry: THE 10 HOTTEST AI STARTUPS OF 2022 (SO FAR)

Artificial intelligence has been one of the hottest – some might say “over-hyped” – segments of the IT industry. While there has been a steady stream of breathless AI announcements this year, a number of startups are developing impressive AI technology for real-world applications in model development and deployment, data management, predictive analytics and customer support.

Market research firm IDC is forecasting that worldwide revenue for the artificial intelligence market, including software, hardware and services, will total $156.5 billion this year – up 12.3 percent from 2019. The market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 17.1 percent through 2024 when it will surpass $300 billion.

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[Related: 5 Emerging AI And Machine Trends To Watch In 2021]

Here’s a look at 10 young AI companies that caught our attention in 2020.

Get more of CRN’s 2020 tech year in review.


Top Executive: Founder and CEO Arijit Sengupta

Headquarters: Pleasanton, Calif.

Aible likes to tout its software as bringing AI to real world business problems. The startup’s machine learning platform provides a way to simply and rapidly build and deploy AI models at enterprise scale.

The platform is used by data scientists, developers and business users of AI analytical applications in such areas as sales and marketing optimization, customer retention and operations effectiveness. The technology helps users make decisions based on cost-benefit tradeoffs and operational constraints.

In September Aible established a partnership with Tableau Software (owned by Salesforce), providing an Aible extension for Tableau for building predictive AI models directly within Tableau. In October Aible announced a technology integration partnership with Dell Technologies’ Boomi that will make it easier for the Aible system to utilize data acquired through Boomi’s cloud-based integration platform.

Founded in late 2018, Aible has raised $21.6 million in financing, according to Crunchbase.

BlackSwan Technologies

Top Executive: Michael Ouliel

Headquarters: Tel Aviv, Israel

In October BlackSwan exited stealth and launched what the startup calls the world’s first AI operating system for developing AI-based applications that mimic the functions of human intelligence.

The company’s Element platform combines artificial intelligence, big data, cognitive computing and contextual analytics tools. The system assists businesses and organizations with the entire data life cycle through data discovery and acquisition, through analysis, decision making, prediction and even data monetization.

Founded in 2017, the company raised $28 million in Series A funding.


Top Executive: CEO Tom Kehler

Headquarters: San Francisco

CrowdSmart develops what it calls “collective intelligence” software that uses AI to improve the accuracy of investment analyses while reducing ingrained bias. The company’s technology automates knowledge acquisition from the collective intelligence of experts, investors and other market influencers, then applies AI and Bayesian learning to improve investment prediction accuracy.

Founded in 2015 CrowdSmart has received $7.7 million in several rounds of funding, according to Crunchbase.


Top Executive: Founder and CEO Deon Nicholas

Headquarters: San Francisco

Founded in 2017, Forethought was launched with the idea of building AI-based agents that can assist information workers with their everyday tasks and workflows.

The company’s first product, Agatha, is designed to assist customer support teams by providing customers with self-service capabilities to resolve common issues, categorize customer support calls and route them to the right place, provide support staff with assisted responses and problem resolutions, and analyze customer support operations for effectiveness.

Forethought raised $17 million in Series B funding in October, bringing its total funding to $27 million.


Top Executive: Co-Founder and CEO Pete Foley

Headquarters: Chicago

ModelOp‘s software helps organizations automate the deployment, management and monitoring of artificial intelligence models while improving governance and transparency.

Earlier this year the company announced ModelOp Center V2, the second major release of its flagship product with its new Command Center interface that provides a consolidated view of all models across an organization.

In March the startup announced a $6 million Series A funding round led by Valley Capital Partners, with participation from Silicon Valley Data Capital and other investors.


Top Executive: Founder and CEO Pedro Alves

Headquarters: San Mateo, Calif.

The Ople Platform automates big data tasks, such as data preparation and predictive model creation, optimization and deployment, that usually require a data scientist. The software leverages AI and machine learning models to help solve complex predictive analytics problems in predictive maintenance, supply chain optimization, financial fraud detection and customer churn.

In March Ople, founded in 2017, integrated its software with Tableau’s popular business intelligence and data visualization tools, using Tableau’s recently released Analytics Extension API.

Top Executive: Founder and CEO Oleg Rogynskyy

Headquarters: San Francisco’s AI-based platform helps sales, marketing and customer service employees uncover revenue opportunities through customer engagement.

The system captures information related to sales and revenue activities – everything from customer contacts, emails, meetings and video conferencing – and uses its AI algorithms to identify revenue threats and opportunities. The system, for example, can determine the key personas a company’s marketing efforts should target to determine which sales behaviors are most like to succeed. The platform automatically moves its findings into a company’s CRM system.

In October, founded in 2016, acquired ClosePlan, developer of strategic account planning applications that sales teams use to map out and execute sales strategy.

Top Executive: Founder and CEO Balan Ayyar

Headquarters: Santa Clara, Calif., and Washington D.C., founded in 2017, develops the Mirage Intelligence Analysis Platform specifically for intelligence analytics tasks for the U.S. intelligence and national security communities.

Built using neural network-based computer vision algorithms, Percipient’s software analyzes and geo-correlates multi-media data, such as full-motion video, geospatial intelligence and natural language processing data, in near-real-time and at scale for intelligence purposes, as well as facial recognition and vehicle detection and identification applications.


Top Executive: Co-Founder and CEO Sagie Davidovich

Headquarters: New York

SparkBeyond has developed an AI-powered idea- and hypothesis-generating system – the Problem Solving Platform – that the company says harnesses the world’s collective intelligence to tackle very complex problems.

The technology discovers complex patterns within data and identifies the root causes and drivers of business outcomes. The system takes an organization’s data and contextualizes it with information from external sources to generate hypotheses and conclusions that a more limited technology cannot.

The technology, for example, can optimize clinical trials for new drugs, increase crop yields and fight financial fraud. Other common use cases include retail location optimization, customer churn management, financial risk management, and improving logistics and supply chain efficiency.

But the company has its eyes on applying the technology to even more complex problems such as cancer research and climate change. The company was founded in 2013 by Davidovich and CTO Ron Karidi.


Top Executive: Founder and CEO Amit Husain

Headquarters: Austin

SparkCognition has developed a number of AI-based software systems for a range of applications including SparkPredict for industrial asset protection, optimization and predictive maintenance; DeepArmor for cybersecurity; Darwin for data science; and DeepNLP for natural language processing and unstructured data analysis.

The company, founded in 2013, targets its software toward a range of customers in aviation, consumer packaged goods, financial services, oil and gas, maritime and power generation. The company also works in the defense arena and earlier this year started a new business unit called SparkCognition Government Systems.

The company has raised $163.6 million in venture funding including a $100 million Series C round in October 2019, according to Crunchbase.