OpenAI leads $23.5 million in Mem, an AI-powered notes app • TechCrunch
Last year, OpenAI announced the OpenAI Startup Fund, a tranche through which it and its partners, including Microsoft, invest in early-stage AI companies tackling big problems. Mamma has been the word since companies have received grants from the fund. But today the OpenAI Startup Fund revealed it led a $23.5 million investment in Mem, a work-focused app that taps AI to automatically organize notes.
The investment values Mem at $110 million after money and brings the startup’s total raised to $29 million.
Co-founded by Kevin Moody and Dennis Xu, Mem differentiates itself from traditional note-taking apps by emphasizing “light organization,” in Moody and Xu’s words. The workflow revolves around search and a chronological timeline, which allows users to attach topic tags, tag other users, and add recurring reminders to notes.
Mem users can take quick notes, send links and save photos from anywhere using SMS, messaging apps and the platform’s mobile client. Collaboration features allow teams to share, edit and annotate notes and link them directly to shared calendars for faster reference.
Mem’s search experience uses AI to search across notes, aiming to understand which notes might be most relevant at a given moment to a particular person. Moody and Xu say the platform is designed to empower knowledge workers in their typical responsibilities, such as reading through pages of information, extracting parts relevant to a particular question and transforming the information into an answer or report.
There is no doubt that knowledge-seeking tasks are time-consuming. According to Gartner, professionals spend 50% of their work time searching for information and spend an average of 18 minutes finding a file (although the veracity of calculations like these have been challenged over the years). One source estimates that document disorganization costs companies $3,900 per employee each year in lost productivity, making Mem an attractive proposition if the technology works as advertised.
“The most important thing we hear from the organizations we talk to is the desire to be able to combine their vast amounts of proprietary knowledge with … generative AI models – to support use cases that range from conducting research to writing to selling and more .” Moody and Xu told TechCrunch in an email interview. “The magic of Mem is that we bring together your own private and proprietary data with state-of-the-art generative language models to unlock truly personalized, real-world outputs. We combine knowledge sources across individual, team and organizational levels, leading to significantly better performance across the board.”
Mem recently launched Mem It for Twitter, which allows users to save threads, get AI-generated summaries of their content, and see suggestions for similar tweets. It also continues to refine Mem X, Mem’s built-in work assistant, with new features such as Smart Write and Smart Edit, which leverage AI to generate text based on a prompt, summarize files, generate titles for documents and allow users to use natural language commands to edit or format text.
The plan for the foreseeable future is to increasingly lean into these kinds of AI-powered experiences, say Moody and Xu, with support from OpenAI through the OpenAI Startup Fund. OpenAI Startup Fund participants get early access to new OpenAI systems and Azure resources from Microsoft in addition to capital.
“OpenAI is clearly leading the wave of technological revolutions that we are riding,” Moody and Xu said. “This makes the OpenAI Startup Fund the ideal partner for what we’re building – for both the technical expertise and strategic guidance they bring to the table.”
OpenAI COO Brad Lightcap, who also manages the OpenAI Startup Fund, added in an email: “Mem uses powerful AI to make knowledge workers more productive by removing the tedium and fatigue of organizing and accessing information, ultimately allowing people to focus on the parts of their work that matter. Their vision aligns perfectly with our goal at the OpenAI Startup Fund to accelerate companies that use AI to increase productivity and, more broadly, human potential.”
Mem competes with a number of companies that seek to tackle the same challenges of finding knowledge and organizing notes. In corporate search, there’s Glean, which recently raised $100 million in a venture-equity round. On the knowledge management side, Atlassian’s wiki-like collaborative workspace Confluence and Notion, which was valued at $2 billion in 2020, still dominates.
But Moody and Xu argue that the 16-employee Mem has an advantage in that it is “self-organizing,” which apparently results in less manual curation and work. While they declined to disclose Mem’s revenue or the names of any major clients, they claim that Mem is successful because of its AI-powered technology.
“We are confident in our unique approach to self-organization and generative knowledge management. … Our personalized machine learning models not only help knowledge workers stay organized automatically, but also go beyond just helping to find things—we actually help people do their work,” Moody and Xu said. “The shift to remote working has made efficient, asynchronous knowledge sharing more important than ever, and the market downturn has made companies focus on efficiency. Our AI-assisted knowledge work saves people time, and the rapid improvement in large language models gives us further tailwinds.”