AI Startup Sentient Hires Executives From IBM Watson, Highbridge and UC Berkeley

Artificial intelligence startup Sentient announced Wednesday it hired three new executives, a sign the startup is growing quickly in a field larger tech firms like IBM and Google are fighting to dominate.

Sentient brought on Andy Narayanan from IBM Watson to lead its visual intelligence. Jeff Holman of Highbridge Capital will join as chief investment officer, and Peter Bartlett of UC Berkeley will join Sentient’s advisory board.

Sentient has almost doubled its size in the past year. The company currently has 85 employees, and it aims to reach 100 by the end of 2015. At the end of 2014, the company raised a Series C funding round of $103.5 million, bringing its total fundraising to more than $143 million. It was the largest funding round ever raised by an AI startup.

Sentient initially began with a focus on financial trading. However the company is expanding its work into e-commerce.

Nigel Duffy, the company’s chief technology officer, said these hires come as the company is shifting toward visual products. Sentient is working with retail partners to predict what clothes individuals will want to buy.

“They find our ambition very compelling,” Duffy said in an interview with TechCrunch. “They’re experts in their fields.”