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Early AI Startup Sentient Diversifies As AI Field Gets More Crowded

Sentient Technologies was an AI startup years before AI became fashionable. Now that the field has become crowded with big and small rivals, Sentient wants to diversify its business.

The company, whose founders include the engineers who went on to found high-profile AI startups Siri and Viv, has been looking to raise what would be its first round of funding in nearly three years, said a person with knowledge of the company’s strategy. In 2014, when it last raised money, hopes were high enough to get Sentient a valuation of $700 million, according to a person close to the company. It’s not clear whether Sentient can keep that valuation in its next round.

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“The big companies continue to make their bets, and startups really have to have something unique to find and exploit a niche in the AI market,” Mr. Ardire said.

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Sentient’s approach to using AI in e-commerce differs from Amazon and other companies because it doesn’t use data about customers’ past behavior to predict what they’ll buy in the future.