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Hedge fund billionaire invests in Swedish AI startup

London

EUCLIDEAN Capital, the family office of hedge fund billionaire James Simons, is leading a US$20 million investment in Peltarion AB, a Swedish startup whose software platform helps companies use artificial intelligence.

The new funding values Peltarion at US$110 million, Luka Crnkovic-Friis, the company's co-founder and chief executive officer, said in an interview. Also participating in the round are existing investors EQT Ventures and FAM, a holding company owned by three foundations established by Sweden's prominent Wallenberg family.

Mr Simons, a mathematician and former code breaker who founded hedge fund Renaissance Capital, has an estimated net worth of US$16.5 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. News of the investment was first reported by the Swedish publication DI.

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Mr Crnkovic-Friis said that Peltarion, which is headquartered in Stockholm and has offices in London, Oslo, and Barcelona, is planning to open an office on the East Coast of the US in the coming months and will start ramping up sales efforts there.

Peltarion's software platform helps companies build algorithms using neural networks - a kind of machine-learning loosely based on the human brain - and is among a handful of firms looking to make it easier for companies make their own AI, even if they lack the relevant experience or coding skills.

Among its competitors is Petuum, a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based company founded by Carnegie Mellon University computer scientist Eric Xing. Microsoft Corp, in September 2018, acquired California startup Lobe, which built a graphical programming interface for computer-vision tasks.

Facebook Inc, Amazon.com Inc. Alphabet Inc's Google, International Business Machines Corp and Microsoft have all begun offering pre-trained algorithms and machine learning toolkits. They are doing so, in large measure, in the hope of convincing these businesses to buy their cloud-computing offerings.

But Mr Crnkovic-Friis said the tools these companies offer are still too complex for inexperienced users and often not customisable or robust enough to be applied to real business use cases. BLOOMBERG