Napster co-founder leads secretive Seattle startup that just raised $3.5M to ‘supercharge productivity’

From left to right: Saurav Pahadia; Jordan Ritter; Shu Wu; and Daniel Cintra. (Augment Photo)

The news: A group of experienced entrepreneurs and technologists have teamed up to lead a new Seattle startup that aims to “supercharge your productivity.”

The details: Augment AI Corp is still in stealth mode, but Mekhato has learned that the startup just raised a $3.45 million seed round and is spinning out of the incubator at Seattle’s Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence (AI2).

The company isn’t yet sharing much info about its software. Its founders came together “based on a strong shared belief that all our devices and apps should be working together to do so much more for us,” according to the company website.

“The devices and apps we use daily know so much about us, yet they don’t do much with that knowledge, and we’re forced to repeat the same tasks day in and day out,” CEO and co-founder Jordan Ritter said in a statement. “Augment will supercharge our productivity and enable us to finally free ourselves from the minutiae.”

The founders: Ritter previously co-founded file-sharing company Napster and led a Seattle startup called Atlas Informatics that was backed by Bill Gates and had a similar pitch around productivity. Atlas built a personal search engine that ran in the background on users’ computers and captured record of activity across different apps and services. The idea was to help users quickly locate information within files, emails, and other sources. Atlas shut down in 2017, two years after it launched.

Ritter also co-founded Cloudmark, Servio, and Ivy Softworks, a startup studio in Seattle that closed in 2016.

The other Augment founders include:

  • Daniel Ladvocat Cintra, a former Google employee and director at Axon.
  • Saurav Pahadia, a former engineer at Seattle startup StrikeGraph and Madrona Venture Labs.
  • Shu Wu, a former leader at Facebook, Microsoft, Redfin, and Wavii.

The investors: Backers include FlyingFish Ventures and JAZZ Venture Partners.

“We have a shared vision for where artificial intelligence and machine learning can assist us all to be more productive and spend more time on the things that matter,” Geoff Harris, managing partner at FlyingFish, said in a statement. “This vision is one that I started on while working on Cortana at Microsoft and I am passionate about helping companies that want to see that vision fully realized.”

Other info: Augment is the latest spinout from the incubator at AI2, joining a roster that includes other startups including (acquired by Baidu in 2017), (acquired by Apple in 2020), WhyLabs, Lexion, Modulus Therapeutics, Ozette, WellSaid Labs, and Panda AI.

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