Growing up in the startup world as partners — and friends.
Trinity is excited to announce our investment in Weights & Biases, the latest AI venture of a trusted and proven founder team that we’ve been working with for years.
Lukas Biewald and I first met over a decade ago. I was just beginning my career as a VC. He was a first-time founder and CEO. I was one of the first investors he ever worked with and his first-ever lead investor, just as he was one of the first founders I ever backed.
Over ten years, a marriage (Lukas’), and a baby (mine), we literally grew up together in the startup world. CrowdFlower (now Figure Eight), the company he founded back then, has achieved a nine-digit valuation and established itself as the essential Human-in-the-Loop AI platform for data science and machine learning teams.
Lukas is an entrepreneur and visionary in their truest form and as such is at his best when he’s building something from scratch and lighting the path for industry to follow. That’s why I am thrilled to announce our lead investment in Lukas’ newest venture, Weights & Biases (W&B). W&B is creating state-of-the-art developer tools for machine learning. Based on now almost 15 years of experience in artificial intelligence — practically unheard of given the nascence of the field — Lukas is on a mission to make machine learning mainstream, and he is uniquely qualified to create the toolkit to make his mission possible. There’s a reason only a handful of elite technology companies are implementing machine learning today: AI is simply too hard to implement, and AI-trained talent is far too expensive.
I liken the current state of AI to the explosion of Big Data ten years ago; companies suddenly realized they needed to use Big Data and were clamoring to figure out how. That’s precisely how companies are grappling with AI today. W&B’s market-defining tools will help companies graduate AI from the research lab to full-scale enterprise-wide deployments. And these deployments will not be restricted to the sprinkling of deeply-resourced technology companies that can afford AI today. W&B’s tools will unlock AI’s potential to companies large and small serving a range of industries. As fun as it is for AI to enable the placement of flower crowns on our heads within our favorite social media apps, we’ll all be well-served when it’s also available within hospitals to assist in diagnostics; in schools to further personalized learning; and in driverless cars to reduce accidents, improve commutes, and create mobility for the elderly and disabled. The potential for AI to improve lives is limitless. W&B’s tools will help those possibilities become closer to realities.
“I liken the current state of AI to the explosion of Big Data ten years ago; companies suddenly realized they needed to use Big Data and were clamoring to figure out how. That’s precisely how companies are grappling with AI today.”
Lukas Biewald embodies the founder traits we look for at Trinity: optimism, fearlessness, customer empathy and incredible perseverance. He is one of the most determined people I know and a strong leader. I have tremendous respect for his insightful, skilled pivot of CrowdFlower from crowd sourcing to machine learning. A gadget enthusiast and uber geek who built a robotics lab in his garage and facial recognition tools just for fun, Lukas possesses deep empathy for his developer customers because he’s truly one of them.
Influential entrepreneurs like Lukas and co-founders and Chris Van Pelt and Shawn Lewis could have chosen any VC firm to invest in their new startup. The fact that they chose Trinity Ventures as a lead investor speaks volumes to the fact that we don’t just recognize talent and hand over a check. Instead, we strive to develop deep, authentic, long-term relationships by constantly adding value with industry knowledge; honest, even-handed guidance; and strategic insight. My relationship to Lukas is a true embodiment of this approach. We know each other well, trust each other, and can engage in tough, honest, authentic conversations.
We are thrilled to keep Lukas within the Trinity family, and I am personally extremely excited to be able to invest once again in someone who I see as not only a great founder and AI visionary, but now, a decade into our relationship, also a trusted partner and genuine friend.