is History

In a press release this morning, we shared two very exciting announcements that mark what’s next for our company’s future. The first is that we’re changing our name from to Dessa. Our other announcement is that Alex Krizhevsky, the inventor of AlexNet and one of AI’s truest mavericks, is joining our team as an exclusive Technical Advisor. We’re beyond thrilled to have the opportunity to work first-hand with him and take our team’s machine learning knowledge to new heights. The following is a letter that our co-founders to reflect further on what these announcements mean for the company.

Dear Friends:

In 2016, we decided to start an artificial intelligence company and call it We not only thought it was a clever domain name but also liked how it paid homage to the exciting rebirth for AI called “deep learning” - a technology invented in Toronto, our hometown. After seeing deep learning’s success in the academic world, we thought it had even more potential for enterprises and their rich and valuable datasets.

Starting an AI company when we did and calling it turned out to be a very good choice. Today, we’re a team of nearly 30 (and growing!) people made up of machine learning boffins, theoretical physicists, mathletes, mechatronists, art historians, serial entrepreneurs and computer engineers. We raised $9 million in Series A funding in September and opened an outpost in New York City this spring. Since putting one of the world’s first deep neural networks for retail banking into production, we’ve been able to build exciting AI systems for different kinds of companies all over the world.

Even though deep learning has proved invaluable to the field, we don’t believe AI is a one-trick pony. By building AI for enterprises, we’re starting to realize there are a lot more tools that can be used and created. In fact, we think we’re still in the earliest days of the artificial intelligence revolution. These days, it seems like the savviest AI researchers and practitioners (including ourselves) are searching for what the next big thing will be in the field. Even Geoffrey Hinton, in his exploration of capsule networks, has been keen on discovering the next steps for artificial intelligence. In short, we think all of the past decade’s advancements should be seen as a kind of beginning rather than an end to the progress made so far.

Inspired by these changes, we’ve decided to change our company’s name to Dessa, which originates from the word ‘odyssey.’ For us, Dessa is all about evoking the excitement of an epic journey, an odyssey into the unknown reaches of a technology we’re still in the early stages of discovering.

Even though is history, it doesn’t mean we’ll be abandoning its namesake entirely - far from it. As we embark on this new journey, we’ll be using our deep learning roots to guide us forward.

Three people are directly responsible for the modern AI boom: Geoff Hinton, who’s become known deep learning’s jovial godfather, Ilya Sutskever, who runs OpenAI, and Alex Krishevsky. In 2012, Hinton, Sutskever, and Krizhevsky invented a deep neural network which produced results in image recognition that surpassed previous world records by a landslide. Where we are now with AI originated in that moment.

Today, we’re thrilled to announce that we now have one of these deep learning legends on our team: Alex Krizhevsky has officially joined Dessa as an exclusive Technical Advisor. Moving forward, we’ll be working closely with Alex to uncover new cutting-edge tools for putting AI into production. He’ll also be serving as mentor to our talented group of AI engineers to level up their machine learning knowledge.

How AI is going to change our world won’t happen overnight - we know that.But we’re using the lessons we’ve learned to build a blueprint for the future of AI tools that will one day dramatically transform how all of us live, work and play.

As far as the mission behind Dessa goes, we haven’t changed what we’ve always been driven by:

  • Getting more ambitious things done.
  • Taking the long-term view.
  • Evolving business with the power of AI.
  • Building a place that empowers the most creative people to do the best work of their lives.

Needless to say, we’re sincerely excited about the journey that lies ahead of us!

-Stephen, Eric, Ragavan, and Vince is History

June 11, 2018