Vishal Sikka, former MD and CEO of Infosys, has announced his latest venture, Vianai Systems. The startup is an artificial intelligence-based enterprise platform that has a mission to help businesses around the world to drive digital transformations. The Palo Alto-based startup has already secured $50 million in funding.

Sikka left Infosys on a bitter note in August 2017 following a public spat with the founders of the company, particularly with N R Narayana Murthy. The latter had alleged that Sikka had flouted corporate governance norms, among other things. Sikka was the first non-promoter CEO of Infosys.

During his three-year stint at India’s second-largest software exporter, Sikka had laid emphasis on the importance of emerging technologies like AI. So much so, that he had increased the capital of the company’s innovation fund to $500 million from $100 million in a bid to invest in startups in the fields of automation, machine learning, big data, and AI.

"AI has the ability to fundamentally transform every business in every industry," Sikka, who is the founder and CEO of Vianai, said while announcing the launch of his latest venture last week. “The shift to AI in the enterprise carries vast potential for improving businesses and amplifying their humanity. Yet, only a few technology firms have tapped into AI's potential. Vianai is at the forefront of helping the world's best organisations on their journey,” added Sikka, who currently serves on the supervisory board of the BMW Group and on the advisory board of the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence (HAI).

Vianai brings to enterprises, across all industries, an AI platform that blends extreme ease-of-use and performance with the next generation of explorable and explainable AI techniques, the company said. The startup said it is already helping organisations make use of AI beyond experiments and proof of concepts. It is helping them make AI-based digital services a cornerstone of their enterprise transformation strategy.

“Today, there is a great potential and opportunity to use AI as a force for good in the world, and it is refreshing to see a company that gets it right at the outset,” said John Etchemendy, provost emeritus of Stanford University and co-Director of HAI. “Vishal's vision for Vianai, the talent that the company has harnessed, and the rapid progress made in a very short time, are all impressive. I am excited about being an adviser, and look forward to our journey together.”

Vianai also announced a panel of advisers from industry and academia that include Henning Kagermann (former chairman and CEO of SAP and chairman of Acatech), Alan Kay (Turing Award winner and computer science pioneer), Divesh Makan (founder of Iconiq Capital), Indra Nooyi (member of the boards at Amazon and Schlumberger and former PepsiCo CEO), and Sebastian Thrun (CEO of Kitty Hawk Corporation and co-founder and chairman of Udacity) and Etchemendy.

"Every company that hopes to be a leader in their industry needs to understand the transformative potential of AI, and to successfully activate it within their organisations," said Nooyi. "The market need is immense, and Vianai, with its capable leadership and differentiated platform, is in a unique position to address it. I look forward to being an adviser to the company in the exciting times ahead.”

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