Execs from GitHub and Microsoft Azure invest in new AI startup that helps devs build intelligent apps

SpiceAI co-founders Luke Kim (left) and Phillip LeBlanc. (SpiceAI Photo)

The news: Spice AI, a new Seattle startup that aims to help developers quickly build AI-powered software applications, raised a $1 million pre-seed round.

The backers: There are several notable investors betting on the early-stage company. Madrona Venture Group led the round. GitHub CEO Nat Friedman and Microsoft Azure CTO Mark Russinovich also invested. Other institutional backers include Picus Capital, TA Ventures, Founders’ Co-op, Cardinia Ventures, and Elysium Venture Capital.

The tech: The company just launched an open-source project called Spice.ai. The software lets developers create intelligent applications that continuously learn from real-time data and adapt using machine learning. The idea is to easily implement AI capabilities and avoid long development cycles. Potential use cases include optimizing grocery pickups, patient scheduling, or air conditioning, among others.

The people: Co-founders Luke Kim and Phillip LeBlanc worked together at Microsoft on Azure technologies including Dapr and Azure Active Directory. Kim co-created the Incubations team at Azure.

The take: It’s early — Kim and LeBlanc just began their startup journey this summer and don’t have any paying customers. But it’s worth keeping an eye on the company given the founders’ pedigree and the initial investors.

Aseem Datar, a former Microsoft Azure General Manager who just joined Madrona as a partner, said Spice AI is “going after a large and significantly important mission as the world sees more and more of these intelligent apps.”

“Building intelligent apps that deliver magical experiences by leveraging AI is still way too hard, even for advanced developers,” he wrote in a blog post. “There is a need to combine code with sophisticated data science to elevate the app and add smarts in it, thereby making it an ‘intelligent app.’ Spice AI is on a mission to make this as easy as creating a modern web page.”