AI startup looks to ‘democratize access’ to intelligent data

Business news |
By Rich Pell

Founded in 2016 by Alexandr Wang, a computer scientist from MIT, Scale receives raw, unlabeled data from companies which it then processes through a combination of human microtasking and machine learning, and returns as scalable and accurate data sets. Scale’s customers include Lyft, General Motors (Cruise), Zoox, Nuro, Voyage, nuTonomy, and Embark.

“Our Series B enables Scale to rapidly advance how human intelligence and machine learning can work together to make the once arduous and manual process of creating training data a breeze,” says Wang. “The success of AI-based applications is inherently dependent on the caliber of the data inputted, and we believe our human and machine integrated system provides customers with the precision needed to power AI applications. We’re proud that leaders in autonomous vehicles (as well as other industries) have made Scale an integral and trusted part of their pioneering work.”

Human-labeled data is critical for the machine learning models that teach computers to see – a use case most famously applied in self-driving cars, says the company. Computers only learn what data is fed to them, making Scale’s data-labeling accuracy, scalability, and speed critical for its customers.

The Scale API offers a number of human-in-the-loop labeling options, including Semantic Segmentation, Image Annotation, and Sensor Fusion (the latter working with autonomous vehicle companies’ LIDAR and RADAR data). In addition to autonomous vehicles, says the company, its API for human intelligence is being used to accelerate companies’ development of robotics, drones, virtual assistants, and other solutions that heavily depend on AI.

Scale says it has now annotated more than 200,000 miles of data collected by self-driving cars, and has grown revenue over 15x in the last 12 months, with multiple millions of dollars in revenue from brand name customers.

“Scale has the potential to become the fabric that connects and powers the Artificial Intelligence world,” says Mike Volpi, General Partner, Index Ventures, which led the funding round. “For autonomous vehicles in particular, Scale is well-positioned to take over an emerging field of data annotation regardless of which players ultimately come out on top. Alex, the company’s CEO and founder, has recruited a highly talented and technical team to tackle this challenge and their progress is evident in the marquee list of customers they’ve won in such a short amount of time.”

In addition to Index Ventures, participants in the latest funding round included existing investors Accel and Y Combinator, as well as new individual investors, including Dropbox CEO Drew Houston and entrepreneur Justin Kan. To date, Scale has raised $22.7 million in funding.


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