26 – 100 in alphabetical order by company: Paul Bernard, director of worldwide corporate development, Amazon Alexa Fund

The Amazon Alexa Fund is US-based e-commerce, cloud and internet technology group Amazon’s corporate venturing fund, began in 2015. It is dedicated to finding and supporting startups that work with voice technology.

Paul Bernard, who leads the fund, said in an interview with Global Corporate Venturing in 2019: “Our goal is to identify startups creating new experiences with Alexa or advancing the state of the art in voice technology and to give them the resources they need to grow their business.

“We have invested in more than [80] companies across a range of segments from smart home and wearable technology to education, entertainment, and health and wellness, as well as technologies like microphones and processors that unlock new use cases for Alexa.”

The Alexa Fund has $200m under management and focuses on voice technology innovation that is compatible with Alexa voice recognition systems. The team believes human voice-enabled devices will boost the way users interact with technology. In addition to funding, the fund supports entrepreneurs to transform their innovative ideas into products and services.

Most recently, the Alexa Fund invested in musical instrument learning portal Yousician, celebrity video shoutout platform Cameo, cybersecurity technology provider Inpher.io, electricity management technology developer Span.io and nail-art printing device developer Preemadonna.

In the past year, the Alexa Fund exited Betty Labs, the US-based developer of social sports audio app Locker Room, which was purchased by audio streaming platform developer Spotify, and countertop convection oven maker June was acquired by grill manufacturer Weber Stephen Products.

Last year, augmented reality glasses developer North Wearables was acquired by internet technology provider Google.

Bernard said: “Gaming and entertainment are among customers’ favourite use cases for Alexa, and we think those categories will only grow in popularity as Alexa is integrated into more vehicles.

“Drivetime stands out for its focus on voice-first games in the car, and we are excited to work with them to broaden the Alexa Auto experience and help customers make the most of their time behind the wheel.”

He added: “Part of the benefit of our approach is that we can work with a range of companies and technologies across the spectrum on the so-called hype curve. I would rather take a risk with an entrepreneur than look back and wish I had leaned in.”

The Alexa Fund is one way Amazon is supporting adoption through a greater range of services and products. “We obviously cannot invest in every compelling startup that embraces voice technology.

“But we do try to identify some of the most compelling ones, support them to bring their vision to Alexa, and, in so doing, help them build a great company. If we keep doing this, it can only help move us toward the vision we have for Alexa to be a ubiquitous service that makes daily life easier and more convenient for customers.”

Edison Fu

Edison Fu is a reporter and Asia liaison at Global Corporate Venturing.