• L.A.-based Artie, which began in 2018 as a platform to help game publishers build AI-enhanced video game characters but shifted its focus to enabling a distribution method that allows game publishers to circumvent app stores, has reopened its seed round.
  • The company plans to go to market later this year with celebrity and IP partnerships, then start attracting third-party game publishers and players to its platform with its distribution technology. In the long run it hopes to grow its user base with its original focus of AI-for-gaming features.
  • Artie has raised $8 million from investors, including the founders of Zynga, Shutterstock and YouTube; Warner Music Group; Jeffrey Katzenberg's WndrCo; and three L.A.-based venture firms including Scooter Braun's Raised In Space.

In late 2018, Ryan Horrigan and Armando Kirwin set out to bring to life video game characters who could see and understand and interact with the gamers on the other side of the screen. They quickly recognized a problem that has now taken the tech world by storm: App stores create friction.

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Beyond Limits, a Glendale, Calif.-based company that builds human-like reasoning into its artificial intelligence, has taken its tech from outer space onto factory floors and to hospitals.

Now as it seeks to expand its global footprint, the company said it raised $133 million in Series C funding. In addition to an expansion of its services, it hopes to build up its software platforms.

The round was led by Group 42, an artificial intelligence and cloud computing company in Abu Dhabi, and its longtime and ongoing partner bp ventures, an investment arm of the British energy group. Founded in 2014, Beyond Limits is based on technologies developed at Caltech and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and funded by NASA and the Department of Defense.

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It's been a strange summer for the Techstars Starburst Space Accelerator.

One team of founders in Singapore worked through the night on Los Angeles time to create an AI system for data. Another in Wisconsin kept each other's stoke strong while working remotely these last grueling weeks on their virtual reality (VR) platform. A third team was able to participate in the program because the pandemic let them work remotely next to their near-space balloon in Colorado.

They're all part of the second class to participate in the accelerator's mentorship-driven program that aims help build the next generation of space technology companies. The program is usually based in Los Angeles.

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