Hoping to fuel more usage of its technology, Salesforce Ventures has established a $50 million fund to invest in startup cloud computing companies focused on artificial intelligence (AI).
The new fund means that the venture capital unit of Salesforce.com is providing funds to startups to accelerate their development of AI technologies built on the Salesforce platform. Based in San Francisco, Salesforce claims it’s the world’s No. 1 Customer Relationship Management (CRM) company, with more than 150,000 customers.
In general, artificial intelligence (AI) is an area of computer science that affirms the creation of intelligent machines that work and react like humans, according to Techopedia. Planning, speech recognition, and problem-solving are some of the activities computers with AI are designed for.
Salesforce provides technology that helps businesses stay connected with their customers across many touch points, including sales, service, marketing, and commerce. Salesforce has been boosting its use of artificial intelligence since introducing its “Einstein’ technology in 2016.
Growing Demand Fueling Need For New Partners
Salesforce says its consulting partners are seeing their Salesforce practices grow more than 50% annually. It adds the growing demand is creating a need for new partners that can deploy more of Salesforce’s apps to customers.
Now, Salesforce wants to deepen relationships with developers and startups building AI apps that integrate with its platform. Portfolio firms that get funding from the Salesforce Ventures’ AI Fund can reap many benefits, including access to Salesforce’s customer base and access to the world’s largest cloud ecosystem, giving them a competitive edge over rivals. Salesforce Ventures has provided approximately $700 million in funding to over 250 startups since it started in 2009.
“Consulting firms play a pivotal role in the Salesforce ecosystem, implementing Salesforce solutions that meet the needs of customers of all sizes, industries, and geographies,” John Somorjai, executive vice president of Corporate Development and Salesforce Ventures, said in a statement.
Plus, Salesforce continues to boost its AI offerings. It has just announced Einstein Forecasting, enabling business leaders to understand exactly what to expect from their sales pipeline and provide them accurate revenue projections.
Other new apps include Einstein Opportunity Scoring, which automatically prioritizes high-value opportunities and Einstein Email Insights, which automatically identifies the most important emails, enabling sales reps to sell faster and smarter.
Venture Capital Investment in AI Startups Could Surpass $10.8B
At the same time, venture capital investment in AI startups is growing rapidly. Global financing for AI startups this year is projected to exceed $10.8 billion, almost double the $5.6 billion spent in 2016, according to research firm CB Insights.
Observers say cloud computing makes AI more accessible because most types of hardware people use—including laptops and smartphones—do not have the computing power to run many AI applications competently.
Often referred to as “the cloud,” the technology enables a business to use a network of connected computers, servers, and other applications to store, manage and process data over the internet. The resource means that the information is no longer located on just a single computer or server a business uses to store data.
Viewed with skepticism by business owners in recent years, cloud computing is now used as an adopted tool by those operators. A new survey by Clutch shows that 67% of businesses plan to increase their cloud computing spending in 2017.