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The top 10 angel investors in AI

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The artificial intelligence space is growing quickly and, with that, so is the need among AI startups to find the right investor.

I and four of my colleagues at NYU recently developed an AI powered engine to analyze investor data and identify the investors most likely to invest in certain startups. After analyzing more than 22,000 angel funding rounds since 2014 based on data available through Crunchbase, we ranked top angel investors in the AI space measuring three primary variables:

  • Recency: measures angel investors’ latest investments in the angel round.
  • Frequency: measures how active angel investors are in the AI space.
  • Relevance: measures past investments in AI.

Here are the top 10 angel investors our algorithm came up with, scoring the highest at 100 with all other scores relative to the top score. (Note: We removed our original #6 from the list, since they recently stopped being as active as they were.)

1. Wei GuoScore: 100

Guo is managing partner at UpHonest Capital and founder of Wei Capital. He has been recognized by some entities as one of the most active Chinese investors in Silicon Valley, where his fund has invested in more than 120 startups. His AI investments include RoboTerra, a company that specializes in educational robotics; MoBagel, a business intelligence solution that covers the Internet of Things’ data analytics process; and Mashgin, which is building a self-checkout kiosk using object recognition technology to identify retail store items.

2. Jerry YangScore: 72

Yang is a cofounder of Yahoo, and founding partner of AME Cloud Ventures, which invests in seed all the way to late stage startups. Yang is currently on the board of directors of Workday, Alibaba, and Lenovo. His AI investments include CrowdAI, which provides high-quality, scalable image annotation for companies that specialize in self-driving cars, satellite images, and automated drones; Zipline, a company that operates a drone delivery system for health supplies, including blood, vaccines, and medicine; and Osaro, a San Francisco-based AI company that creates machine intelligence software that aims to make computer and robotic systems more efficient, adaptive, and intelligent.

3. Jeremy Yap — Score: 70

Yap is an angel investor from Singapore who has invested in around 29 companies over the past five years. His AI investments include Twiggle, a natural language search technology that allows search engines to mimic the behavior of experienced salespeople to power next generation e-commerce; Bloomsbury AI, which aims to enable non-programmers to conduct data analytics; and Iris Automation, an SF-based company backed by Y-Combinator, NASA, and Boeing to build an AI-based system that prevents industrial drones from colliding.

4. Scott Banister — Score: 66

He is known best as an early advisor and board member of PayPal, and cofounder of IronPort, acquired by Cisco for $830 million. He is a pioneer in the business of emails and former founder of ListBot, which Microsoft acquired. Banister has an extensive track record as an angel investor, with AI investments in Nervana Systems, a company that focuses on building technology to power intelligent applications (acquired by Intel in August 2016); Osaro, a creator of machine intelligence software that helps robotic systems act more efficiently and intelligently; and Dil Mil, a matchmaking mobile app for South Asians.

5. John Shaw — Score: 64

An experienced coder, entrepreneur, and active investor, Shaw focuses on B2B startups, AI, Robotics, and IoT. He founded several companies and is currently working on an AI startup that combines his extensive experience in Cloud Computing with AI. His most interesting AI investments include Vic.ai, a bookkeeping automation and financial support service provider; and Kairos AR, which specializes in face recognition across multiple media platforms.

6. Paul Buchheit — Score: 63

Buchheit is a computer programmer who is best known for creating and developing Gmail. He is currently managing partner at Y-Combinator and is founder of FriendFeed, an aggregator of social networks (acquired by Facebook in 2009). He started investing in 2006 with AI investments in CloudMedx, an AI healthcare platform that generates real-time clinical insights; Iris Automation, which provides a system that helps industrial drones avoid collision; and lvl5, a computer vision software that creates accurate maps for self-driving cars.

7. Ken Hertz — Score: 56

Hertz is a lawyer by profession and senior partner at Hertz Lichtenstein & Young. He has made a significant impact as an angel investor and startup advisor. His AI investments include ObEN, which builds virtual identities for consumers and celebrities through a personal AI that simulates someone’s voice, looks, and personality.

8. Esther Dyson — Score: 56

Dyson is chair of the Health Initiative Coordinating Council (HICCup), a startup that aspires to coordinate health intervention programs in cities. She invests in health, IT startups, and technologies. Her most notable AI investments include Joany, which uses data and predictive modeling to simplify buying health insurance online and make it more personalized; and Init.ai, which helps companies create AI and conversational apps.

9. Peter Livingston — Score: 54

Livingston is a Miami-based investor and engineer with over five years of experience in angel investing. His AI investments include Kairos AR for face recognition; Numerai, a hedge fund built by data scientists; and Vayu, which develops affordable medical delivery drones carrying healthcare supplies to remote areas in developing countries.

10. Semil Shah — Score: 48

Shah is a Silicon Valley based early stage investor and founder of Haystack, which invested in more than 70 companies, including Instacart, Hired, and DoorDash. He serves on the advisory boards of The Alpha Network and StrictlyVC. He is also a former consultant for several venture capital firms, including General Catalyst, Trinity Ventures, and GGV Capital, among others. His notable AI investments include AirMap, an airspace services provider that focuses on providing accurate airspace information for building unmanned aircrafts, drones, and applications; Iris Automation, which helps industrial drones avoid collision; and SkySafe, which provides drone defense and airspace control solutions.

AI applications are very diverse: computer vision, understanding natural language, speech recognition, and many more. Honing in on an even more specialized list of angel investors and VCs is another task, but one that AI can easily do.

Amr Shady is a data science engineer and cofounder and CEO of Aingel.

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