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Stealthy AI2 spinout led by Napster co-founder unveils AI-powered sidekick

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From left: CEO and co-founder Jordan Ritter; Lead Engineer and co-founder Saurav Pahadia; Head of Product and co-founder Daniel Cintra; Marketing Manager Clara Leitao, and UX Researcher Ziyun Tie. Kenzie, a charcoal labrador, is sitting in front. (Augment Photo)

Augment AI wants to be your AI-powered sidekick.

The Seattle startup, which spun out of the Allen Institute for AI (AI2), emerged from stealth mode Tuesday and opened a private beta. The move provides a more detailed look at the secretive startup, which GeekWire first spotted in January when it raised a $3.5 million seed round.

Augment was launched by Jordan Ritter, co-founder of file-sharing company Napster; Head of Product Daniel Ladvocat Cintra, a former Google employee and director at Axon; and Saurav Pahadia, a former software engineer at Seattle startup Strike Graph and Madrona Venture Labs.

Ritter also previously led a Seattle company called Atlas Informatics. The startup was backed by Bill Gates and built a personal search engine that ran in the background on users’ computers and captured record of activity across different apps and services. The idea was to help users quickly locate information within files, emails and other sources. Atlas shut down in 2017, two years after it launched.

Augment is built on a similar pitch around productivity and workflow. The company aims to leverage AI to provide a tool that will function as a software-powered secretary to professionals. It will do everything from take meeting notes to recall and organize all the research on a specific topic.

The startup offers two apps that will work alongside a user’s pre-existing tools. The two apps are called Meeting Augment and Memory Augment.

  • Meeting connects with virtual meeting platforms like Zoom, allowing users to brief invitees, transcribe and summarize meeting content, and extract follow-up items from the video calls.
  • Memory meanwhile lets users aggregate and store information regarding a certain topic. Users can recall documents, files and web pages, among other relevant information.
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Augment is not the only startup building software to assist in company workflow. Seattle startup Xembly offers a conversational agent, which analyzes workplace messaging to schedule meetings, create agendas and take notes, among other use cases. There is also Read, a startup that gauges audience feedback by analyzing their voice and facial movements, giving users an assessment in audience engagement.

The beta will be free for users. Once finished, the company will move to a subscription model, but prices are not yet determined. The company is currently targeting consumers, Cintra told GeekWire in an email. Its funders include AI2, Flying Fish, JAZZ Venture Partners and Incisive Ventures. It did not reveal its current valuation.

Augment is the latest spinout from the incubator at AI2, joining a roster that includes other startups such as Kitt.ai (acquired by Baidu in 2017), Xnor.ai (acquired by Apple in 2020), WhyLabs, Lexion, Modulus Therapeutics, Ozette, WellSaid Labs, and Panda AI.

Related: Inside the AI2 Incubator: Microsoft co-founder’s unfinished legacy fuels quest for new AI startups

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