Artificial intelligence is beginning to be usefully deployed in almost every industry from customer call centers and finance to drug research. Yet the field is also plagued by relentless hype, opaque jargon and esoteric technology making it difficult for outsiders identify the most interesting companies. To cut through the spin, Forbes partnered with venture firms Sequoia Capital and Meritech Capital to create our second annual AI 50, a list of private, U.S.-based companies that are using artificial intelligence in meaningful business-oriented ways. To be included, companies had to be privately-held and focused on techniques like machine learning (where systems learn from data to improve on tasks), natural language processing (which enables programs to “understand” written or spoken language), or computer vision (which relates to how machines “see”). Private AI companies that were incubated at, largely funded or acquired by large tech, manufacturing or industrial firms–including some of the leading autonomous vehicle developers–were not eligible for consideration. The list was compiled through a submission process open to any AI company in the U.S. The application asked companies to provide details on their technology, business model, customers and financials like funding, valuation and revenue history (companies had the option to submit information confidentially, to encourage greater transparency). In total, Forbes received about 400 entries. From there, our VC partners applied an algorithm to identify the 100 with the highest quantitative scores and then a panel of eight expert AI judges identified the 50 most compelling companies. “It’s not about creating some magic algorithms,” says judge Anima Anandkumar, a Caltech professor and Nvidia’s director of machine-learning research. “Focus on the problem and impact side.”
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Among the notable trends this year: Augmented intelligence, which seeks to help humans do their jobs better and not replace them, is on the rise as the excitement over full automation loses some steam. Self-driving tech startups remain hot; the seven autonomous vehicle companies on this year’s list have raised over $3 billion in total venture capital. Another area to watch: AI applications to discover drugs or diagnose diseases faster. Across the board, AI 50 founders agree that Covid-19 has permanently accelerated or altered the spread of AI. In terms of valuation, at least 10 of the AI 50 are valued at $100 million or less, while 13 are unicorns valued at $1 billion or more. Silicon Valley remains the hub for AI startups, with 34 of 50 honorees coming from the San Francisco Bay Area. Honorees are listed alphabetically. An asterisk donates valuation data from PitchBook rather than company sources or Forbes estimates. Forbes is always on the look out for promising AI companies. So if you know of one not among our AI 50, please email us at (Note: Online insurance service Lemonade was selected for the list prior to news of its IPO.)

Abnormal Security 

Cybersecurity Scans inboxes for malicious emails.


Workflow Software Automates IT, sales and customer-service tasks.

AMP Robotics 

Environmental Engineering Makes robots that identify and sort recyclables.

Anduril Industries 

Defense Builds surveillance systems for national-security purposes.


Software Development Helps software developers make machine-learning apps.


Customer Service Assists customer-service agents in real time. Read more here.


Health care Discovers drugs with medical potential.


Automotive Makes software for self-driving cars.


Health care Monitors patients’ health using wearables.

Blue Hexagon 

Cybersecurity Detects network or cloud cyberattacks.

Cerebras Systems 

Hardware Builds computing chips for AI use.


Customer Service Assists customer-service agents in real time.


Software Development Develops tools for enterprises to build AI apps.


Software Development Makes software for companies to develop AI models.


Automotive Produces 3D maps for self-driving vehicles.

Domino Data Lab 

Software Development Provides tools for data scientists. 


Productivity Software Detects and tracks construction-project problems. 


Productivity Software Builds chatbots to automate customer interactions. Read more here.


Productivity Software Creates data sets by digitizing human actions in factories. 

Embark Trucks 

Automotive Creates software for self-driving trucks. 


Cybersecurity Detects cloud cybersecurity threats.

Fiddler Labs 

Software Development Helps companies build and monitor AI apps.

Genesis Therapeutics 

Health care Discovers drugs with medical potential.


Automotive Puts self-driving tech into conventional cars. 


Productivity Software Analyzes sales conversations.


Database Software Turns video footage into 3D maps.


Productivity Software Analyzes businesses’ contract risks.


Health care Looks for pathogens in blood tests.

Krisp Technologies 

Communication Software Removes background noise from calls.


Financial Services Sells insurance using bots.


Productivity Software Assists human language translators.


Productivity Software Resolves IT tickets autonomously.


Automotive Produces self-driving delivery robots. Read more here.


Customer Service Analyzes customer-service calls. 

Automotive Makes software for self-driving cars.


Health care Discovers potential drugs for rare diseases.


Database Software Creates data sets by tracking commercial spaces.

Scale AI 

Software Development Helps engineers speed up AI development. 

Shield AI 

Defense Makes mapping drones for national security. Read more here.


Software Development Develops software for enterprises to build AI models. 


Cybersecurity Spots cybersecurity vulnerabilities.


Productivity Software Gives suggestions on how to improve writing.


Automotive Builds self-driving trucks.


Health care Discovers drugs with medical potential.


Workflow Software Creates bots that carry out repetitive processes.

Unity Technologies 

Software Development Provides software for app or game development.


Financial Services Partners with banks to price loans.


Financial Services Offers financial planning and management. 

Health care Analyzes stroke risk from brain images.


Productivity Software Detects and resolves software problems.
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