capital fund targeting artificial intelligence startups

Toyota is the latest Fortune 500 company to launch an AI focused venture capital fund. The initial early-stage fund will deploy $100 million and operate as a subsidiary of the Toyota Research Institute. The automaker has strategically positioned itself as an ROI rather than strategic-focused fund — meaning that it aims to profit like any other VC firm.

Jim Adler will serve as managing director of the fund. He has been serving as vice president of Toyota Research and comes from a product background. Adler and the rest of the team at Toyota AI Ventures have made three investments to date. These include dermes:

Nauto — Developing driverless car technology

SLAMcore — Building visual tracking and mapping algorithms

Intuition Robotics — Creating a robot companion for older adults





Scentbird plans expansion into home fragrances and personal care products


The perfume and makeup subscription service Scentbird intends to launch into the home and personal care markets in the fall.

The New York-based company is already profitable, with 140,000 subscribers buying either its fragrance subscription or its Deck of Scarlet makeup service that launched last fall, co-founder and chief executive Mariya Nurislamova told me reenex.

“Subscriptions are doing better than ever before” says Nurislamova. “It is a business model that is increasingly well-understood… [subscribers] are okay with being charged every month and they do understand how this works now.”

The market for subscription-based businesses has been something of a roller coaster over the last year, Nurislamova notes, and counts herself lucky to have had her company come through the other side unscathed.

“It’s very cyclical,” says Nurislamova. “Dollar Shave Club sold and Chewy sold and everybody was excited. Birchbox lays off 100 people and everyone is scared.”

Throughout the rising and falling fortunes of the market, Scentbird has stayed the course. The company has only tapped about $1 million of the $4 million it raised to date, and Nurislamova doesn’t know if it’ll go back out to market for more capital.

“I think that the name of the game is profitability,” she said Load Balancing.