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Working at the Speed of Thought: Investing in Wispr AI

The essence of being a good venture capitalist is making moonshot bets. Sometimes that means backing entrepreneurs who build new software workflows for stagnant, legacy industries; other times, it means backing entrepreneurs who push the boundaries of what we can do as humans and as a society by building platforms to capitalize on breakthroughs in fundamental research. At 8VC, we make both kinds of investments. The latter are particularly exciting when they mean supporting technical founders with bold visions.

Bringing slightly-crazy, software-enabled hardware products to market is part of 8VC’s DNA. In 2011, we were one of the first investors in Palmer Luckey’s Oculus, which remains the atomic unit of VR to this day. We’ve also done this in national defense, backing Palmer again when he started Anduril in 2017 and brilliant technologist Bo Marr when we co-founded Epirus in 2018. These bets require courage and conviction.

Our recent seed investment in Wispr AI is one of these decisions. We were thrilled to co-lead Wispr’s $4.6 million seed round to help them achieve their moonshot vision of accelerating human cognition itself.

Brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) are a revolutionary technology that can change the way we interact with computers. Originally conceived 50 years ago, BCI development has mostly been limited to specialized applications in medical science, which requires invasive devices. But there’s an emerging front in non-invasive, AI-enabled neurotechnology that can impact millions of people in everyday life. Wispr is leading the way.

Why is this possible now and not 5 years ago? Wispr’s thesis is that non-invasive BCI is increasingly a signal translation problem as much as a neuroscience one. The incredible advances in deep learning and reinforcement learning (which were barely theoretical concepts in the early 2010s) have changed the game for BCIs. And in the past few years, researchers have shown that the most subtle neuroelectrical signals can be detected and decoded into information. CEO Tanay Kothari and CTO Sahaj Garg founded Wispr to bring the neurotechnology revolution to the masses through an AI-enabled, non-invasive wearable that will help people connect with the virtual world at the speed of thought.

At 8VC, we spend a lot of time tracking the best up and coming technological talent — both inside universities and outside of them. With Tanay and Sahaj, we’re excited to be working with some of the top minds coming out of Stanford. Simply put, they’re two of the best engineers we know. What they’re building will power a more innovative and connected society in the future.

We have been very impressed with their aggressive progress and prototypes, and are eagerly anticipating their first product launch. Tanay and Sahaj are hiring a team of world class engineers and neuroscientists to make it happen.

Learn more and join them at wispr.ai

Alex Kolicich
Founding Partner, 8VC

Philip Clark
Chief of Staff to Joe Lonsdale, 8VC

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