We’re excited to be backing Workera, a California-based startup on a mission to advance AI and machine learning capabilities for individuals and enterprises in their $5M seed funding alongside Owl Ventures and the AI Fund.
The World Needs more AI Talent
AI is transforming how companies operate by enabling the synthesis of information at scale, advanced product personalization, intelligence to processes, and machine learning that improves systems over time. The need for AI in both the consumer and enterprise domains is clear, with global spending on AI projected to double over the next four years to $110 billion in 2024. But what this need has uncovered is an AI skills shortage large enough to become a barrier to AI adoption.
In the US, the share of AI jobs grew from 0.3% in 2012 to 0.8% of total jobs posted in 2019 as investment in AI startups continues its steady ascent from $1.3B raised in 2010 to over $40.4B in 2018. According to Guy Berger, Principal Economist at Linkedin, “the AI talent pool is growing at an extremely fast pace. And the pace at which these folks are being hired is growing even faster. More than ever before, this surfaces the need for public and private sector interventions that ensure enough workers are trained and reskilled to meet the rapidly-growing demand for AI skills.” No wonder that CIOs have cited AI talent shortage as the single most significant challenge they face.
In order to establish top-performing AI teams, companies need to understand the existing AI skills gap within their organization, upskill employees and hire new ones. Workera supports learners and companies alike with an innovative AI talent measurement solution, and Plug and Play is excited to participate in Workera’s $5M seed round alongside Andrew Ng’s AI Fund and Owl Ventures.
Workera is building the world’s most reliable assessment of human capabilities, starting with AI. Individuals can join the Workera community to access their skills, receive tailored feedback and personalized learning pathways, benchmark themselves against others, and find the right career opportunities in AI. Companies work with Workera’s Enterprise team to identify AI talent externally, assess internal teams and design tailored upskilling strategies that ensure their AI teams remain competitive with industry peers. To date, Workera has evaluated more than 500,000 skills across tens of thousands of individuals representing 1,000+ companies and universities.
The Team Behind Workera
The Workera team is well-positioned to build such a community. In 2017, Andrew and Kian started DeepLearning.AI to make world-class AI education accessible to individuals around the world. Their online courses, including "Machine Learning" and "Neural Networks and Deep Learning", are amongst the most popular courses on Coursera. Between the two of them, they’ve taught AI to more than 3 million people. Andrew is also the world’s most recognized figure in the field of AI with an impressive resume: he co-founded Coursera (last valued at $2.5B), co-founded and led Google Brain, and led AI at the Chinese tech giant, Baidu. Kian is also a Lecturer of Computer Science at Stanford University, teaching with Andrew what is likely the largest class on campus: Deep Learning. James Lee previously led global operations at Udacity, one of the leading ed-tech companies in the world.
Plug and Play is thrilled to partner with a strong set of investors on this investment. That Owl Ventures – the largest ed-tech venture capital firm – is included among Workera’s investors is a testament to the importance of Workera’s vision.
We are delighted to partner with this all-star team to realize the dream of making AI accessible to everyone.
Plug and Play is one of the most active VCs in Silicon Valley, our goal is to fund the teams that are building the defensible businesses of the future. Join our ecosystem today.