"Alexa, add Champagne to my shopping list"

In part one we are fascinated to learn how the hugely successful, artificial intelligence entrepreneur, William Tunstall-Pedoe developed anagram-generating AI to solve cryptic crosswords and how he was inspired to become the sole founder of the Cambridge based, start-up Evi in 2005. As the architect, William tells us how he steered a course from family investment through multiple venture capital rounds to the final pivot and the origins of an own brand, consumer product with Alexa and Echo. Acquired in 2012 by the multinational, technology giant Amazon as a major competitor for Apple’s Siri, William explains how the move from independent to Amazon executive fitted him and the product well.

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William Tunstall-Pedoe is a British entrepreneur focused Artificial Intelligence and other deep technology. He is based in Cambridge, UK and London but also frequently in Toronto and both coasts of the US. (LinkedIn)

His biggest recent achievement was founding the British company Evi (formerly True Knowledge) in 2005. After seven years running the business as a venture capital backed start-up, Amazon acquired it in 2012 and its AI technology, platform and team were used to create Alexa. For more than three years he had a senior role in the team that defined, built and launched Amazon Alexa and the  Amazon Echo product (the initial Alexa device). Evi is now a subsidiary of Amazon and a large development centre employing many hundreds of scientists and engineers.

After a decade since founding the company and with everything he hoped to achieve delivered successfully, he made the difficult decision to leave Amazon in February 2016.

William now spends much of his time helping and investing in other AI startups. He has personally invested in more than 60 such businesses (see his angellist profile.) . He is a full member of Cambridge Angels and a fellow of the Creative Destruction Lab in Toronto. He is also thinking gently about what to do next – which will likely be founding another AI-based startup.

Produced by Mark Cotton, Twitter.

Podcast links:

William Tunstall-Pedoe

Evi Technologies - knowledge base and semantic search engine software (article by WIRED magazine)

Amazon Alexa - a virtual assistant developed by Amazon, first used in Amazon Echo and the Amazon Echo Dot smart speakers developed by Amazon Lab126