Score one for application service provider plays, a still-hot area for
venture capital in an extra-choosy funding environment. Abridge, Inc., whose
bot technology interprets electronic messages to help groups coordinate on
projects, said it raised $7 million in Series B financing. Venrock
Associates, EMC Corporation and Angel Investors, LP, took part in the round.
Former Lotus senior executives Jim Manzi (former CEO) and John Landry
(former CTO) also took part in the second institutional round. Landry, who
marks his 25th-year in the computing and technology industry, is taking a
seat on the company’s board of directors. The technology also pays homage to
the Lotus notes legacy – a form of groupware for corporate intranets and on
Investment firm Allen & Company initially backed the start-up. The company’s
first product aims to simplify email coordination among groups on projects
by capturing and interpreting existing e-mail messages regarding the group
project. The service essentially knits the messages into a secure Web space
and acts on e-mail-based commands to automate routine group coordination
tasks like meeting scheduling, reminders and alerts.
The company said Abridge’s applications are based on a proprietary,
patent-pending “Expert Messaging” platform that uses natural language and
intelligent algorithms to translate content from e-mail and other standard
digital message forms into commands that can be understood by applications,
such as calendars, word processing programs and Web sites. In short, the
technology uses artificial intelligence, or bots.
Susan Hunt Stevens, president of Abridge, said the company was pleased with
the investors who joined the round, while welcoming new Landry to the board.
“Between our new partners’ extensive experience and knowledge, we now have
unmatched resources to achieve our mission of making electronic
communications more intelligent in order to simplify how people work
The company said the beta version of the service is currently available for
free at Abridge.com; an enhanced enterprise version of the service will
be available for a monthly per user subscription fee in the fourth quarter.