Commbank backed H2O.ai, whose open-source framework helps organisations build and scale their own AI-based services, has raised $US100M valuing the business at $1.7B.
The other investors in the round include Pivot Investment Partners, Crane Venture Partners and Celesta Capital. And on the principle that it is always a good sign when your customers invest in you, H2O seems to be on something of a tear. Its Series D funding for $75M was led by another customer, Goldman Sachs, which also participated in this round.
Unlike the other four banks, historically the Commbank has preferred to support startups and scaleups as customers rather than as an investor, although that has changed in recent years with the formation of x15, its incubators for scale-ups, although H2O is not part of that program.
In addition to its framework, H2O also provides tools that organisations can apply to its completed apps in areas such as fraud detection, churn prediction and anomaly detection which typically requires vast amounts of data ingestion.
Last month, while speaking at a Global AI Summit, founder and CEO Sri Ambati outlined the areas where he saw AI adding value to organisations.
"AI is going to take away a lot of the basic stuff like creating data from unstructured conversations such as these insightful meaning from just raw data collection to the next level of data curation, to then actually unlocking even more human potential is a true discovery and then kind of touched it a bit on drug discovery."
He said he also saw a lot of potential in areas such as talent discovery and online education, particularly pressing issues for many industries, post-pandemic.
"[Some] of the recommendation engines that we are seeing on some of these popular social networks are actually discovering some hidden talent and also discovering insights for us to use."
"Online education has in my view, the biggest impact as we go forward."
According to Ambati, data is the fuel for the new economies but that data needs to be unlocked from the walled gardens using privacy-preserving algorithms to help drive further innovation.