Kernel Raises $53M in Quest to Hack Humans with Brain-Reading Machines

Rachel Uranga

Rachel Uranga is dot.LA's Managing Editor, News. She is a former Mexico-based market correspondent at Reuters and has worked for several Southern California news outlets, including the Los Angeles Business Journal and the Los Angeles Daily News. She has covered everything from IPOs to immigration. Uranga is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism and California State University Northridge. A Los Angeles native, she lives with her husband, son and their felines.

Kernel Raises $53M in Quest to Hack Humans with Brain-Reading Machines

Kernel, a bioscience company aiming to make the inner workings of the human brain easy to read, announced Thursday it's raised $53 million in a Series C round led by General Catalyst.

Other investors include Khosla Ventures, Eldridge, Manta Ray Ventures, Tiny Blue Dot and Kernel founder and CEO Bryan Johnson, who himself has invested $54 million in the company to date.


Kernel founder and CEO Bryan Johnson has invested $54 million in the company.

Founded by Johnson, Kernel makes technology used to record brain waves and other mind functions inexpensive, opening up the frontier of the human mind to researchers and scientists that previously didn't have access. The company calls the interface with the brain "neuroscience as a service" or NaaS, a take on tech companies selling SaaS (software as a service) technology.

It has already conducted experiments that allow individuals to spell out words using brain signals alone.

"We live in a data-illuminated world, but the user manuals for our brains have no diagnostic or useful numbers, leaving us with no option but to describe and characterize cognition using hunches." Johnson said in an announcement. "Imagine a cardiologist asking you how your heart is doing based upon your hunches, without cholesterol or blood pressure."

"If we can quantify thoughts and emotions, conscious and subconscious, a new era of understanding, wellness and human improvement will emerge," Johnson concluded.

Johnson likens the endeavor to the genome project that broke open new frontier in biological study and set the table for new discoveries.

"Mainframes became PCs and then smartphones. The $1B genome became the $1,000 genome. The brain and mind are next," Johnson said in a company statement.

Kernel is among a small list of companies trying to hack the human brain, once an idea isolated to science fiction. Last year, Space X founder Elon Musk unveiled Neuralink's design to the public. The secretive company is developing brain-machine interfaces that it hopes will eventually give paraplegics and others more control. He announced on Thursday, he would give an update on the company Aug. 28.

Kernel is already generating revenue and said earlier this year it would be available for commercial use. It was featured in I Am Human, a 2020 documentary about scientists trying to unlock the human brain.

Kernel hopes its brain-recording device will spur a new era of discovery in neuroscience, psychiatry and health with an eye toward breakthroughs in the biomakers for cognition and brain health and improving artificial intelligence for difficult tasks such as computer vision.

The funds will be directed towards further technology development and customer success.

"The vision fueling Kernel is one of the most audacious imaginable." said Quentin Clark, general partner, General Catalyst in a company announcement. "Kernel's engineering accomplishments have the potential to enable more neuroscience progress in the next few years than has been accomplished in the last few decades."

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Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

When avatar startup Genies raised $150 million in April, the company released an unusual message to the public: “Farewell.”

The Marina del Rey-based unicorn, which makes cartoon-like avatars for celebrities and aims to “build an avatar for every single person on Earth,” didn’t go under. Rather, Genies announced it would stay quiet for a while to focus on building avatar-creation products.

Genies representatives told dot.LA that the firm is now seeking more creators to try its creation tools for 3D avatars, digital fashion items and virtual experiences. On Thursday, the startup launched a three-week program called DIY Collective, which will mentor and financially support up-and-coming creatives.

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Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

LA Tech Week—a weeklong showcase of the region’s growing startup ecosystem—is coming this August.

The seven-day series of events, from Aug. 15 through Aug. 21, is a chance for the Los Angeles startup community to network, share insights and pitch themselves to investors. It comes a year after hundreds of people gathered for a similar event that allowed the L.A. tech community—often in the shadow of Silicon Valley—to flex its muscles.

From fireside chats with prominent founders to a panel on aerospace, here are some highlights from the roughly 30 events happening during LA Tech Week, including one hosted by dot.LA.

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LA Tech ‘Moves’: HyperDraft Taps LegalZoom Exec

Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is a reporter at dot.LA. Prior to that, she was an editorial fellow at the company. Decerry received her bachelor's degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.

LA Tech ‘Moves’: HyperDraft Taps LegalZoom Exec
Photo by James Opas | Modified by Joshua Letona

“Moves,” our roundup of job changes in L.A. tech, is presented by Interchange.LA, dot.LA's recruiting and career platform connecting Southern California's most exciting companies with top tech talent. Create a free Interchange.LA profile here—and if you're looking for ways to supercharge your recruiting efforts, find out more about Interchange.LA's white-glove recruiting service by emailing Sharmineh O’Farrill Lewis (sharmineh@dot.la). Please send job changes and personnel moves to moves@dot.la.

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