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Intelligent applications top 40 highlights the future of tech


An impressive list of companies — nominated and voted on by 40 top venture firms — give a glimpse of what technology will look like in the future

For decades, investors have been heavily funding SaaS then cloud-based companies, to pretty decent success. But, argues Matt McIlwain, Managing Director of Madrona Venture Group, that’s “old” enterprise tech. “New” tech will have to bring some intelligence to their SaaS and cloud applications, or risk going the way of the dinosaur.

“The era of SaaS applications is drawing to a close as their ‘intelligent application’ counterparts rise to prominence,” said McIlwain upon announcing the Intelligent Applications Top 40 (IA40), a list of the top AI companies in the private sector that was created in partnership with Goldman Sachs. “We have been investing in intelligent apps since 2011 and we believe that in 2022, we will see a significant shift in how companies build applications, deliver insights, and change our lives. These 40 companies will be driving that shift.”

For the past couple of months, the team at Madrona has been soliciting nominations of intelligent applications. Forty top venture firms, plus judges from Goldman and Amazon ranked the the submissions and 40 made the cut. On the list are some pretty impressive (and cool) companies that will change the way people sell, code, and even speak in public. Also on the list are five companies based in Seattle: WellSaid Labs, SeekOut, Amperity, OctoML, and DataRobot (which has a location in Seattle since the firm purchased Algorithmia).

Look closely at the list, and some trends appear. Machine-to-human interactions are starting to become widespread, especially in the categories of sales (see: Gong), marketing (Amperity), and customer success (Cresta, Moveworks). Machine-to-machine companies are also ones to watch, especially in the realm of cybersecurity (Abnormal) and physical security (Anduril). And let us not write off cloud providers just yet. Most intelligent apps leverage and operate on one or more of the major cloud platforms such as AWS, Azure, and Google.

Keep an eye on these companies. Some will go public and dominate their fields, others will quietly disrupt their industries, still others will merge to create conglomerates that challenge the way we do business and interact with machines. “Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence are taking the technology world by storm,” said McIlwain. “It is these applications that will define the future of software and the next generation of computing.”

The IA40 list

The methodology for the IA40.