General Catalyst’s Phil Libin invests in 2 more chatbot startups, Growbot and Butter.ai

General Catalyst announced that it is moving forward in making investments in bot-related startups. Managing director Phil Libin revealed in a LinkedIn post that the firm has participated in the $1.7 million seed round for real-time feedback service Growbot and made a $3 million bet on knowledge sharing bot Butter.ai. These are Libin’s second and third investments in the space, respectively.
Growbot is a product of the 500 Startups accelerator program and integrates with Slack so people can collect and provide real-time feedback while at work. Think about it as a performance-management service that evolves the standard employee review for new-age companies. Besides the investment from General Catalyst, Growbot has received funding from Inventus Capital and XSeed Capital.
As for Butter.ai, Libin shared that while it’s still in stealth, the bot aims to answer questions and find documents within a work environment, thereby hopefully improving productivity in the office. In a Medium post, company chief executive Jack Hirsch explains what service Butter will provide:
Ever notice how awful it is digging through a shared drive for stuff at work? Yeah, us too. Coming up empty handed and asking a coworker for help is even more time consuming. Despite having great productivity tools, actually finding the content you know exists somewhere is still a frustrating waste of time. This is a big problem and up to now, technology hasn’t put much of a dent in it. We’re going to make that dent.
It’s also the first company to have graduated from General Catalyst’s Hatch program, the same one that has produced firms like Demandware and Kayak.
Libin made his first investment in April, putting money into a bot startup run by cofounder of product/gadget database and discussion forum gdgt Ryan Block and Brian LeRoux. Since joining the firm, Libin has honed his focus on what will stand out saying at one point the “relevant application layer will be bots.” Since then, he lists three things that are important for those building bot companies: Try and solve a real problem; don’t be an app replacement, meaning that the old-fashioned experience of 1-to-1 interactions no longer exist; and help create a conversation within existing communication channels.
His thinking into what interests him about bots and the subsequent characteristics. Libin opined that while there weren’t many bots in the beginning — before Facebook Messenger revealed 11,000 bots on its platform — most people didn’t know what these programs were. Soon after we’ve moved into this “valley of disillusionment” where the value of bots were questioned. Now General Catalyst’s partner is looking at “what are the essential characteristics and which are noise?” He estimates that he’s received more than 100 bot pitches so far.
Libin will put his bot knowledge to the test next week as a judge for VentureBeat’s botathon competition during our MobileBeat event. If you’re interested, register to find out more.
AI. Messaging. Bots. Arm yourself for the next paradigm shift at MobileBeat 2016. July 12-13 at The Village in San Francisco. Reserve your place here.
General Catalyst’s Phil Libin invests in 2 more chatbot startups, Growbot and Butter.ai
General Catalyst’s Phil Libin invests in 2 more chatbot startups, Growbot and Butter.ai



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