(Bloomberg) -- An alumnus of Google’s artificial intelligence research unit DeepMind has a new venture fund, Mythos Ventures, that will bankroll young AI startups.
Vishal Maini, a former DeepMind researcher, founded Mythos earlier this year and has raised $14 million from more than four dozen investors, according to a filing this month.
Maini is one of dozens of former employees from Alphabet Inc.’s Google now equipped with money, expertise and the desire to shape AI technology as an entrepreneur, an investor, or both.
“I was thinking about space exploration, climate change, longevity and health care and I keep coming back to AI; It’s the transformational technology for all of this,” Maini said in his first interview about the fund. “It’s the sci-fi future we’ve always dreamed about, but humans are still in the driver’s seat.”
Venture investors and public companies have plowed billions into AI startups during the past year, supercharging the nascent industry and increasing concerns that the technology is developing without adequate oversight.
Maini said safe and ethical development of AI, a focus of his while at DeepMind, will continue to be his priority as an investor. Mythos will back seed-stage AI startups building what Maini described as “pro-social technologies.” He will also look for startups that have the promise to transform old economies and have long-term plans for the future of AI.
Maini said San Francisco-based Mythos aims to write checks between $100,000 and $1 million. So far, the firm has backed one stealth company and three other startups: the robotic stone carving factory Monumental Labs Inc., real estate valuation company ValueBase and research assistant Elicit.
Elicit, which spun out of nonprofit research lab Ought into a public benefit corporation, said Monday it raised $9 million, led by VC firm Fifty Years with participation from Mythos, Google Chief Scientist Jeff Dean and others.
Despite his experience and the market’s broad enthusiasm for all things AI, raising a fund for the first time was “rough,” Maini said.
“It’s a very difficult time to be fundraising,” he said.
Investors in Mythos’ first fund include later-stage AI venture firm Metaplanet Holdings along with Delphi Ventures, the Operating Group and several individuals who are focused on AI, Maini said.
--With assistance from Mark Bergen.
(Company corrects name of investor in the last paragraph of story from Sept. 26. It is the Operating Group, not the related entity the Coin Operated Group.)
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