SOURCE: B12

B12

July 25, 2016 08:00 ET

B12 Lands $12.4M Series A Round to Put People and Artificial Intelligence to Work

People-Powered A.I. Startup Combines Human and Machine Intelligence to Design Websites in a New Way

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwired - Jul 25, 2016) - Despite a number of Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) initiatives hitting the market, many lack a fundamental component -- people. But New York-based startup B12 is on a mission to change that with today's launch and the announcement of its oversubscribed $12.4M Series A round led by General Catalyst Partners, Breyer Capital, Founder Collective, SV Angel and the founders and executives from successful companies like Akamai, Stripe, Upwork, OpenAI, Locu, Dropbox and more.

B12's first product uses human-assisted A.I. to build and design websites in a completely new way. Through smart uses of automation in areas like algorithmic design and the right combination of highly-skilled creative experts -- art directors, designers and more -- B12 is able to streamline the entire website design process, allowing customers to benefit from a high-touch experience and a self-optimizing, intelligent website at unprecedented speeds and prices.

Backed by the best people-machine team in the market, B12 was founded by Nitesh Banta, a former VC at General Catalyst Partners, and Adam Marcus, an MIT Computer Science Ph.D. and founding team member at Locu, acquired by GoDaddy in 2013.

"Human-assisted A.I. is not about pitting humans against machines. It is about pairing people and machines to create a new hyper-productive and more fulfilling work model. There is no doubt in our minds that if harnessed correctly, A.I. can power a brighter future for human work," said Nitesh Banta, co-founder and CEO of B12. "B12 represents a category shift in software. We use A.I. to manage the process and perform rote labor so that people spend their time doing what they do best -- creative and analytical work."

The engine behind B12's human-assisted A.I. model is Orchestra, which was born out of years of machine-mediated work led by B12 team members out of Stanford, Berkeley, and MIT. B12 open sourced Orchestra as a platform to dynamically assemble teams of highly-skilled experts and machines. Orchestra automates typical project management tasks such as assigning work based on complexity and expertise, as well as pairs aspiring apprentices with experienced experts through mentorships. By building greater efficiencies into the workflow, B12 is able to create more intelligent products and services for far less.

"Recent advances in A.I. have been incredibly exciting, but it's only once you bring humans into the picture that you face important issues such as fulfilling work environments and algorithmic bias. With Orchestra, we add a human layer to A.I., allowing teams of experts to focus on what they do best as they master their craft, leaving machines to automate away the nagging repetition of mundane tasks, like staffing, process check-ins and quality assurance," said Adam Marcus, co-founder and CTO of B12.

"We are witnessing an explosion of A.I. capabilities across a wide range of applications, but it's the potential of the human-assisted A.I. models that are particularly interesting in terms of market disruption," said Larry Bohn, managing director, General Catalyst Partners. "B12 already offers capabilities far beyond what's possible with today's DIY software platforms. We're privileged to be supporting Nitesh and his team as they continue to evolve their impressive human-assisted A.I. approach to work."

"I am confident that artificial intelligence and machine-assisted learning will revolutionize a number of industries -- from healthcare to media -- over the next decade," said Jim Breyer, founder and CEO of Breyer Capital. "B12 is on the forefront of leading this revolution at the intersection of human-assisted artificial intelligence and design with their Orchestra platform. The company's incredibly capable and knowledgeable team is tackling fundamental questions about the role of human creativity in a machine-dominated world, and in the process they are creating products that will profoundly, and positively, impact how work will ultimately be organized in the future."

"Most paid crowdsourcing today is limited to isolated workers -- doing many small tasks or one large job -- via platforms that minimize collaboration and limit the complexity of what can be achieved. Our research at the Stanford Human-Computer Interaction Group has demonstrated that computation can enable far more complex outcomes by dynamically convening teams of expert workers and scaffolding their collaboration. We've seen that these 'flash teams' make it possible to complete complex projects like translating napkin sketches into working software in as little as a day," said Michael Bernstein, B12 Advisor and Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Stanford University. "B12's approach is indicative of the growing shift to complex, interdependent work at scale on the Internet."

B12 website redesigns and builds start at $166 per month if billed annually, or $199 on a month-by-month basis. No set-up fees are involved. Key services include:

  • First website design mockup in 24 hours, powered by algorithmic design
  • Unlimited website updates at any time
  • Secure web hosting
  • On-page search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Responsive design optimized for both desktop and mobile
  • Monthly analytics reports
  • A 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Key integrations with the leading blogging, forms, booking, e-commerce tools and more

To see how B12's human-assisted A.I. can deliver a better website and design experience, visit www.b12.io to request access to the beta.

About B12
The workplace is undergoing rapid transformation, and B12 is on a mission to help people accomplish more at work. Orchestra, the engine behind B12's human-assisted A.I. model, is currently used to help teams of expert designers build and manage beautiful and professional websites. Leveraging A.I. to streamline complex workflows, B12 delivers superior outcomes for both creative experts and clients who receive a high-touch experience and a self-optimizing website in days, not weeks, and at a fraction of the cost. Using intelligent software to automate repetitive tasks, B12 allows people to leverage their expertise where it matters most, paving the way to greater craftsmanship, superhuman productivity and a brighter future of work. Backed by one of the best human-machine teams in the world, B12 recently closed its $12.4M Series A round led by General Catalyst Partners, Breyer Capital, Founder Collective, SV Angel and more.