WhyLabs Spins Out of the Allen Institute for AI to Build the Interface between Humans and AI Applications
Backed by Madrona Venture Group, Bezos Expeditions and Defy Partners, WhyLabs empowers AI builders to run models with certainty by offering tools previously only available to tech giants
The company also revealed $4 million in seed funding from Madrona Venture Group, Bezos Expeditions, Defy Partners, and Ascend VC. Incubated at the prestigious Allen Institute for AI, WhyLabs was founded by Amazon Machine Learning alums Alessya Visnjic, Sam Gracie, and Andy Dang, together with Maria Karaivanova, former executive and head of business development at Cloudflare.
In recent years, a flood of new AI technology solutions have brought the barrier for enterprise AI adoption to an all time low. However, tools that enable AI builders to operate their applications effectively and reliably are still lacking. A recent MIT-BCG study found that more than 3 out of 5 companies reported that their AI investments have not paid off. The WhyLabs team believes that to be successful, AI builders need solutions that optimize AI operations, prevent costly model failures, and facilitate cross-functional collaboration.
“In speaking with AI practitioners from hundreds of enterprises, I kept hearing the same pain-points again and again,” said CEO and co-founder Alessya Visnjic. “AI applications are constantly failing due to data bias, concept drift, and hard-to-spot anomalies in model inputs. These are the same problems I used to deal with at Amazon, when I carried a pager to respond to model meltdowns. The WhyLabs Platform is designed to catch these sources of model-failure in real-time and at scale.”
“Today’s AI systems make weighty decisions regarding loans, security assessments, medical diagnoses, and more. Ensuring that these systems are transparent and auditable is critical,” said Oren Etzioni, the CEO of the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence and a professor in the Allen School of Computer Science at the University of Washington. “WhyLabs is building the essential missing piece of the AI tooling ecosystem that will help enterprises use this technology responsibly.“
The WhyLabs Platform offers teams an intuitive interface for monitoring and analyzing their models that is easy to set up, easy to use, and easy to scale. To begin, a team simply installs a lean, open-source library, which seamlessly integrates with on-premise infrastructure and all major cloud services. Upon installation, the WhyLabs user interface immediately starts surfacing the right insights to the right team members—insights that can be easily shared and used for collaboration. Using highly efficient algorithms, the platform is designed to run at terabyte-scale with a low compute footprint.
“At Zulily, we rely on advanced data and machine learning methods to connect every area of our global e-commerce business, from forecasting to personalization. We need tools that enable our machine learning team to ensure AI models help inform seamless experiences for customers and achieve business objectives when running at a very high scale,” said Olly Downs, VP of Martech, Data and Machine Learning at global online retailer Zulily. “WhyLabs’ monitoring solution takes a practical and elegant approach to monitoring the input and output data, statistics and behavior of models in flight at scale, filling the gap between software and machine learning model operations.”
“The WhyLabs team are practitioners building for practitioners. From their time at Amazon, they recognized that the tools used to monitor software at scale are not applicable to running AI models – there is a clear need for specialized tools to operate these models responsibly at scale. The WhyLabs platform brings cross-platform transparency to this challenge for the data scientists, engineers and business leaders depending on these models to build trust with customers and deliver financial results,” said Tim Porter, Managing Director at Madrona, “We are excited to back this great founding team that knows how to build solutions at scale inside cutting-edge companies.”
AI practitioners can experience the product via an interactive demo on the company’s website: whylabs.ai.
WhyLabs is on a mission to build the interface between humans and AI applications. As teams across industries adopt AI, WhyLabs enables them to operate with certainty by streamlining model monitoring, preventing costly model failures, and facilitating cross-functional collaboration. Incubated at the Allen Institute for AI, WhyLabs is a privately-held, venture-funded company based in Seattle. The company was founded by Amazon Machine Learning alums Alessya Visnjic, Sam Gracie, and Andy Dang, together with Maria Karaivanova, former Cloudflare executive and principal at Madrona Venture Group. Use WhyLabs to supercharge your AI teams, available now at whylabs.ai.
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Erika Shaffer, erika@Madrona.com for WhyLabs