If you ask tech investors about the biggest factor impacting a startup’s early success or failure, they’ll undoubtedly tell you it is the founders. Co-founding and building a new tech company from scratch takes more than acumen and intelligence — it takes a common vision, a passion for execution, a village that supports you, and a bit of luck.
Honed over the course of their careers, NinjaTech AI co-founders Babak Pahlavan and Sam Naghshineh have built a vision, landing them at the center of a generational technology race — the AI assistant race. Both serial founders with a passion for building next-gen tech, NinjaTech AI is their 7th combined startup. Since childhood, Babak and Sam each held deep passions for technology. They each studied electrical engineering and computer science in university, and quickly jumped into their master’s programs at Stanford and Illinois Urbana-Champaign, respectively. They left academia in the late 2000’ as early artificial intelligence (AI) waves intersected their passion for problem solving within industry and they haven’t looked back since.
After graduating from Stanford in 2008, Babak founded CleverSense; an AI-powered personal assistant designed to help users navigate the physical world. Before Google launched Google Assistant, in late 2011, it acquired CleverSense, which became one of the layers behind Google’s recommendation engine in assistant. Babak spent 11 years at Google as a senior director of product management helping lead many products from AI and recommendation engines to ads and measurement products. As Google matured, Babak was challenged by the increased drain of administrative tasks on his teams. This theme repeatedly emerged in Googlegeist survey results as teams struggled to be productive without sufficient admin help. His passion for pursuing a new venture grew, with a focus on tackling admin tasks with AI assistants.
Sam was first exposed to AI at Boeing, where he worked on autopilot programs for commercial and military airplanes. Sam went on to build and sell Citadelica, which pioneered SDN-based network appliances, and later founded Decasense, an AI video intelligence platform for smart cities with focus on security, anomaly detection and traffic optimization through a novel edge Ai technology. Following Decasense’s acquisition, Sam joined Meta in 2018 where he led the company’s deep learning initiatives to build training and inference accelerators at Meta scale. This work enabled him to work across the full AI value chain of software, hardware and silicon. Sam’s excitement for NinjaTech also spurred from Meta’s annual ‘Pulse’ survey, which revealed employees were spending an increasing and unsustainable amount of time on administrative tasks — often 30–40%. Sam’s team was not able to leverage executive assistants due to their high cost and scarcity; AI assistants were the clear path forward.
As their excitement for launching NinjaTech AI grew, AI technology was making rapid advances — thanks to major investment in large language models (LLMs), natural language processing (NLP) and chip technology. These advancements truly enabled the creation of an autonomous AI “task” assistant that could get real tasks done for you. The stage was set: Babak and Sam had found a meaningful problem impacting over 1 billion people; they had the science, engineering and vision for tackling this problem; and they had an incredible village of talent and investors ready to join them.
On Oct. 15, 2022, Babak left Google (the company that he still loves dearly), and founded NinjaTech AI. Then on Oct 17, he joined SRI as an entrepreneur in residence (EIR) to make the dream of a next-gen task-based assistant a reality. In January 2023, the company graduated out of SRI ahead of schedule and Babak, along with Sam, started forming the initial team through their network and got the old band back together. Early in 2023, the company raised $6 million of pre-seed funding from investors such as Laszlo Bock, SRI Ventures, DCVC and Candou Ventures. They’ve welcomed over 34 top-tier engineers, scientists and product managers from Google, Meta and AWS. Ready to launch their Beta product — named Atlas — in early 2024, NinjaTech AI aspires to give a meaningful amount of time back to every busy professional by taking administrative tasks off their hands. Where most AI products are focused on co-pilot, Atlas is an autopilot using nex-gen autonomous AI.
Stay tuned for upcoming product launches and to learn about our next-gen technology in the second founder Spotlight about our Chief Science Officer — Arash Sadrieh!
NinjaTech AI is an artificial intelligence company based in Palo Alto, California. The company’s mission is to save every busy professional time and money, by democratizing access to a safe and reliable Personal AI. NinjaTech AI has raised $6 million pre-seed capital from prominent investors such as Candou Ventures, DCVC, SRI Ventures, Jeff Ullman and Laszlo Bock. You can sign up for their upcoming Beta at www.ninjatech.ai.