Former Infosys CEO Vishal Sikka’s AI firm, Vian Systems, raises $50 m

The firm has offered $50 million in equity for sale which has been completed, according to SEC filing.

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According to the filing, the company offered $50 million in equity for sale and the sale has been completed.
BENGALURU: Artificial intelligence startup Vian Systems, set up by former Infosys CEO Vishal Sikka after his acrimonious exit from Infosys, has raised $50 million in funding, documents filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission show.

ET previously reported that Sikka was working on an AI startup after he left the Bengaluru-headquartered company in 2017 following a battle over corporate governance with founder NR Narayana Murthy. Vian Systems was incorporated earlier this year and Vishal Sikka was listed as an executive officer and director in the filing the company made with the SEC in March.

According to the filing, the company offered $50 million in equity for sale and the sale has been completed. This “includes contribution of certain intellectual property assets,” the company said in a clarification to the equity offering quantum. Two investors have already invested in the offering, the filing said. Their names were not disclosed. “Mr Sikka is receiving no compensation for his role in the offering beyond his usual and customary salary as an officer of the corporation,” the filing stated. Sikka, through a spokesperson, declined to comment for this story or clarify the terms of the equity offering. The company has a one-page website, which says it is “building a world full of intelligence and life” and has an email link for prospective employees. CB Insights, a research firm focused on private companies and startups, lists Vian as a “technology company operating in stealth”.


sikka

“This is not a services play. This is a product-solution play. This is what he is really good at. They should launch in the next few months,” a source with knowledge of Sikka’s plans said.

Vian has some revenues, according to the form filed with the SEC, which listed revenues of between $1 and $1 million. “I think Sikka has a capable set of hands. He was a true evangelist of AI. He is considered the father of SAP HANA, which is sort of a semi-AI system and he helped create Nia, which was another artificial intelligence platform at Infosys. So, he may have found his sweet spot from a product innovation point of view,” said Sanchit Vir Gogia, founder of Greyhound Research.

AI has been a hot bet for startup investors. Venture capital funding for AI startups rose 72% to hit a record $9.3 billion, according to a report by PwC and CB Insights. Investors have, overall, funded fewer startups, even as the total money invested rose. Seed-stage deals have fallen to just 30% in 2018 from 39% of total deals in 2017. At Infosys, Sikka had planned to use AI and automation for its core operations. Other IT companies too have built AI solutions and are partnering with startups.

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“Startups are playing a key role as they come with innovative solutions. There are many large providers who are also incubating startups and have created separate investment funds for startup ecosystem. Startups will gradually overtake big ones in driving the AI economy with disruptive business solutions,” said DD Mishra, an analyst with tech research firm Gartner.
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