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Dessa Media Kit

About Dessa

Dessa helps the world’s largest and most complex organizations build real-world value with advanced AI. We do this by offering a platform, products, and services that build enterprise capabilities with the technology. The company was founded in 2016 and is based in Toronto, one of the world’s biggest hubs for AI advancements.

Our Story

In 2016, we decided to start an AI company and call it DeepLearni.ng, paying tribute to the incredible breakthroughs deep learning produced for the modern AI field. Since then, we’ve learned there’s a lot more to AI than just deep learning, which is why in 2018 we’ve changed our name to Dessa.

Our Story

Dessa has its origins in the word ‘odyssey’, which means ‘epic journey’. Making history with AI can’t happen overnight, and requires a long-term commitment to cleverness, curiosity and continuous learning. At Dessa, we’re striving to be the company that catalyzes success for those ready to embark on their AI journey.

• Founded in February 2016.
• Designed the first cloud-based AI development infrastructure in retail banking.
• Deployed the first deep learning model for a Top 10 global bank.

• Raised $9MM in Series A funding.
• Expanded reach to insurance, telecommunications and investment funds.
• Named “AI Company of the Year” at Canada’s FinTech & AI Awards.
• Became 1st international company recognized by NVIDIA for applied deep learning.

• Entered a partnership with Vector Institute, a prominent AI thinktank.
• Recruited deep learning pioneer Alex Krizhevsky from Google Brain.
• Expanded to US market and opened first office in NYC.
• Signed first Fortune 100 client in US.
• Introduced Foundations, a platform for engineering cutting-edge AI solutions at scale.

Our Team

With deep AI, functional, and industry expertise, Dessa helps enterprises the value of AI. Our experts come from Google Brain, Microsoft, IBM, Bain, McKinsey, Deloitte, Man Investments and more.

Leadership

Stephen Piron

Co-Founder & Co-CEO

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Stephen is employee zero at Dessa, and founded the company with a vision to build AI tools and systems that re-invent what’s possible for business. Before Dessa, Stephen owned successful companies on both sides of the Atlantic that were featured in dozens of publications including WIRED, Fortune and The Wall Street Journal. Between startups, Stephen also designed computer-based trading algorithms at Man Investments, one of the world’s largest hedge funds. Stephen is a passionate public speaker, and once presented at an event at 10 Downing Street before David Cameron. Stephen studied Computer Science at the University of Toronto and once spent a summer studying artificial intelligence at Stanford in the early 2000s—a time when neural networks were hardly acknowledged.

Eric Lee

Co-Founder & Co-CEO

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Eric Lee is a Dessa’s Co-CEO and leads the vision and strategy for the company’s Foundations platform and products. Eric has his PhD in Theoretical Physics from the University of Toronto, where his passion for machine learning first originated. Drawing on strengths cultivated from years of advanced research, Eric is an avid educator that is passionate about collaborating with organizations to transform the latest advances in ML research into real-world value. Eric has published dozens of academic papers and spoken at conferences on machine learning around the world, including NVIDIA’s prestigious GTC Conference. Most recently, Eric led the company’s early-stage expansion into Asian markets through Taiwan’s Garage+ Global Startups Program.

Ragavan Thurairatnam

Co-Founder & Chief of Machine Learning

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Ragavan Thurairatnam is the Chief of Machine Learning at Dessa and leads the company’s team of Machine Learning Engineers, collaborating with them to reinvent what’s possible with the technology. Since 2012, Ragavan has excelled at building and deploying advanced AI systems for enterprises that make real-world impact, helping clients in industries ranging from finance to telecommunications generate millions of dollars in savings and revenue. Ragavan is an alum of Canada’s prestigious NEXT 36 program and earned his Bachelors of Computer Engineering from York University’s Lassonde School of Engineering, where he graduated at the top of his class. Most recently, Ragavan was appointed an Adjunct Lecturer at the University of Toronto, where he teaches a one-of-a-kind course on Applied Deep Learning.

Vincent F Wong

Co-Founder & COO

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Vincent is Dessa’s Chief Operating Officer, where he leads the company’s Operations and Business Development initiatives. At Dessa’s HQ, Vincent is also actively involved in setting the direction for the company’s Talent, Employee Success and Communications initiatives. With more than 10 years of senior level experience in Financial Services at one of Canada’s Top 5 Banks, Vincent has in-depth experience with the ins-and-outs of enterprise operations, and in particular with vendor selection and risk management. Vincent is an alum of Concordia University, with a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce.

Matthew Killi

CCO

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Matthew is Dessa’s Chief Customer Officer and works with enterprises across industries to maximize machine learning’s ROI for their businesses with Foundations, the company’s end-to-end ML platform. Before joining Dessa, Matthew was a Management Consultant at McKinsey & Company, engaging with senior executive teams to execute digital transformations in sectors such as Advanced Electronics, Aerospace and Financial Services. Matthew also previously directed Ontario’s Tech-North partnership, an engagement that established the blueprint for the new Toronto-Waterloo Innovation Corridor. He is a recognized speaker and educator about artificial intelligence’s societal impact and has been a special contributor on this topic for The Global Risk Institute. Matthew has his PhD in Theoretical Physics from the University of Toronto, where he conducted research at the Centre for Quantum Materials and developed his expertise in Data Analytics.

Susan Davis

VP of Engineering

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Susan is Dessa’s VP of Engineering and has the mission to build the best software engineering organization in Toronto. Susan has over 15 years of experience in software development and leads Dessa’s software engineering team, while also baking software engineering’s wisest principles into the company’s machine learning platform Foundations. Before joining Dessa, Susan was the Director of Engineering at FreshBooks, managing a team responsible for everything from infrastructure to security to data engineering. Susan has also been a Software Engineering Manager for leading companies including Lightbend and Amazon, where she managed a team that built the catalog system at the heart of the retail giant’s global fulfilment centres. As an early adopter and present-day Agile champion, for many years Susan also served as an Agile coach. In addition to her expertise in software engineering, Susan is also a three-time world champion in the Japanese martial art Naginata.

Alex Krizhevsky

Principal ML Architect

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Alex Krizhevsky is Dessa’s Principal Machine Learning Architect and one of deep learning’s foremost contributors. In 2012, Alex released AlexNet with Geoffrey Hinton and Illya Sutskever at the University of Toronto, the model that launched deep learning’s ‘Cambrian Explosion’ into industry. By developing AlexNet on GPUs, Alex also helped skyrocket NVIDIA’s market valuation from $10 billion to more than $100 billion in a matter of years. After releasing AlexNet, Alex was recruited by Google to become one of the first researchers at the company’s AI wing Google Brain, where he worked before joining Dessa in June 2018. As Dessa’s Principal Machine Learning Architect, Alex mentors Dessa’s team of Machine Learning Engineers on cutting-edge algorithms and technologies and also informs the development of Foundations products. Despite not having a PhD in Machine Learning, the paper Alex released in 2012 is among the most frequently cited papers in the field to date.

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