Kensho Secures $10 Million in Seed Financing for 'Warren,' an Intelligent Market Research Assistant That Can Answer Complex Financial Questions Posed in Natural Language
General Catalyst, NEA, Accel Partners, Google Ventures, Devonshire/Fidelity Investments, and Other VCs Participate
NEW YORK, January 22, 2014-- Kensho, a pioneer in cloud-based intelligent computer systems capable of answering complex financial and market research questions posed in natural language, today announced that it has secured $10 million in seed funding. Investors from General Catalyst, NEA, Accel Partners, Google Ventures, Devonshire Investors (the private equity arm affiliated with Fidelity Investments), and other VCs participated. 'Warren,' the company's groundbreaking virtual market research assistant, is currently being tested by a select set of asset managers and research teams.
Kensho designed Warren to shorten traditional investment research cycles from days to minutes. The system was built by several veteran software engineers from Google Inc. and Apple Inc., including one of the original engineers on the first iPhone team. Warren can currently answer a million distinct types of natural language questions about the impact of global events on asset prices, such as, "What happens to the share prices of energy companies when oil trades above $100 a barrel and political unrest has recently occurred in the Middle East?" According to Kensho CTO Pete Kruskall and Kensho Lead Engineer Nicolai Krakowiak, both former Google software engineers, Warren will be able to answer 100 million distinct types of complex financial questions by the end of 2014.
Daniel Nadler, CEO of Kensho, commented: "If you look at what Apple is doing with 'Siri,' what IBM is doing with 'Watson,' and what Google is doing with 'Now,' it is clear that the most powerful technology companies are investing immense resources to make virtual intelligent assistants ubiquitous before the end of the decade. Until now, we haven't seen systems optimized for finance—one of the largest industries in the world. Kensho is dedicated to the idea that communicating in natural language with intelligent computer systems which serve as virtual personal assistants will form the leading edge of global innovation over the next half-decade, and will transform not just the consumer space, but industries from medicine and finance to energy and defense as well. We are delighted to receive continued support from so many premier venture capital firms and investors, and this funding will significantly expand our capacity to support a growing number of the best and most experienced engineers in the world in their development of Warren."
Warren currently can answer a million distinct types of natural language questions about the impact of global events on asset prices, such as:
• "What happens to the share prices of energy companies when oil trades above $100 a barrel and political unrest has recently occurred in the Middle East?"
• "What happens to Samsung, the South Korean stock market, and U.S. defense stocks in the 48 hours following North Korean nuclear tests and long range missile launches?"
• "What happens to Home Depot, home builder stocks, and cement company share prices following Category 4 hurricane landfalls in the continental U.S.?"
• "How do credit card company stocks react after the discovery of major credit card breaches?"
In order to build Warren, Kensho created one of the largest unstructured geopolitical and natural world event databases in the civilian arena. Dr. James Shinn, the former National Intelligence Officer for Asia at the Central Intelligence Agency and the former Assistant Secretary for Asia in the U.S. Department of Defense, has joined Kensho's Advisory Board and will help guide the company in this unprecedented effort outside the intelligence community.
Dr. Shinn said, "Event-driven statistical analysis is a remarkably powerful lens through which to understand the world. The effects of geopolitical events on assets—such as oil prices, currencies, and foreign and domestic equity volatility—is one of the least understood areas and, without technology, is one of the hardest, human-labor intensive, and costliest things to measure, despite clearly having massive effects on these markets."
David Jegen, Managing Director at Devonshire Investors, the private equity arm affiliated with Fidelity Investments, added, "Active asset management requires constant innovation to stay ahead, and we are just beginning to see how technology will transform existing approaches. Kensho is at the forefront of bringing next-generation technology to help portfolio managers outperform, and we are proud to be part of their team. Since its earliest iterations, Kensho's software has been adding valuable improvements to the research and portfolio management processes."
"The enterprise financial technology built by the industry's legacy players has not kept up with consumer technology—$500 smartphones are more powerful and easier to use than the 30 year-old technologies for which financial institutions currently pay billions of dollars a year," said Stanley Young, former CEO of Bloomberg Enterprise, and Kensho Advisory Board member. "But the next wave of financial technology innovations, built by firms such as Kensho—using ultra-modern software paradigms and secure cloud computing—will bring the accessibility of consumer technology to the enterprise, and put high-end computational capabilities in the hands of non-programmers. Millions of hours now wasted on spreadsheet manipulations will be saved, and the high-priced professionals currently mired in those tasks will be freed to dive straight into the high-value endeavor of asking important questions and finding needed answers."
Kensho has a long-standing technology partnership with NASDAQ OMX, and Warren is the first professional-grade financial research and analytics platform built completely on NASDAQ OMX FinQloud, a secure cloud computing platform designed exclusively for the financial services sector.
In honor of the funding announcement, as well as Kensho's deep relationship with NASDAQ OMX FinQloud, Kensho, Inc. will visit the NASDAQ MarketSite in Times Square to ring the Closing Bell today.
Kensho is bringing the intelligent assistant revolution to finance with user-friendly interactive research environments that combine cloud computing with graphical user interfaces and natural language querying capabilities, allowing financial professionals to perform sophisticated empirical analyses in a fraction of the time spent by institutional research teams today, and without writing code. The Kensho team is made up of world-class software engineers who came to Kensho from Google Inc. and Apple Inc. (including one of the original engineers on the first iPhone team), as well as Wall Street veterans, PhD physicists, and economists.
For more information please visit: www.kensho.com.
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